Don't Get Into A Fight With a Pig
Hello. My name is Eric. And I have an anger management problem. ("hi eric....")
No, seriously...I get mad. Angry. Volcanic.
Now, let me cut myself some slack here: I have gone through great lengths to be slow to anger. While it is a day to day struggle, I am proud of myself for being much MUCH better at handling my temper.
(as an aside, what really makes me angry is when people say 'oh, he has a bad temper...' Like, who has a good temper? you never hear 'oh she's great...she's got a lovely temper...')
..but I digress...back to the blog point.
Back when I felt like i had to be tough to be a leader I had an issue with someone who worked under my authority. This person did something wrong but that didn't make me mad. I emailed them about it and they kept doing it, but that didn't make me mad. I decided to have a meeting about it to tell them what they were doing and the person completely blew up at me. Yelled at me, pointed their finger in my face and told me I had no idea what I was doing. But even that didn't make me mad. Why not? Allow me to provide some background context.
Friends of mine know I freely admit that my sister and I were born into a household of conflict. My parents' love language was turmoil. It never escalated to domestic violence EVER, but they seemed to enjoy arguing. The simpliest question or comment could turn into World War III quick, fast and in a hurry. I often tell my children my life at their age was a lot like a Rolling Stones song: I was born in a cross-fire hurricane. I also found out at a young age I had to defend myself quickly if I ever were to be heard. Never ever let anyone get the better of you verbally; get your jabs in while you can. Make your point. Articulate your rage. And never EVER surrender.
The message was received and modeled for me (see blog post #2 YOU GET WHAT YOU SEE): don't lose an argument.
So when this person went off on me, I actually chuckled to myself thinking 'you're gonna have to do much better than this to get anywhere close to my father...' But then this person said something - and I honestly don't remember their actual words - so disrespectful, I went from zero to 60 in 3 seconds. I ripped them apart verbally. I tore this person to shreds with such quickness, it was if every world cut this person to their bone. As I saw their spirit leave their body as each word of mine penetrated their soul, I found myself seething on the bloodlust. I made sure this person would never EVER say anything back to me for the rest of their lives. Sad, but true. Not me today, but me in my past.
As I left, patting myself on my back for 'winning', my supervisor looked at me and said something I will never forget. My supervisor looked at me and said "never get into a fight with a pig."
"Um...are you calling this person a pig? Are you calling me a pig? I don't understand."
My super explained:
Pigs live in the mud. They work in mud. They have mud all over their bodies. They LIKE the mud. Getting down and dirty is not unnatural for a pig. In fact being muddy and dirty is an expectation for the pig.
If you want to resolve conflict, if you want to lead people, if you want to do what's best and not 'win' the argument, don't get into the mud with people. When they disrespect you, you don't have to take it but you never respond with disrespect. Never volunteer to be abused but never try to take someone's dignity. When they get into the mud - which might be their natural habitat because after all, hurt people hurt people - stay clean, stay on mission, stay on point and hold people accountable for their actions.
Don't get into a fight with a pig.
I realized how wrong I was all those years ago and I have done much better with expressing myself. Now, there have certainly been times, even in my marriage, where I have to give myself a timeout but I do not disrespect myself anymore by disrespecting someone else - even if they deserve it :)
Sorry...that was my anger slipping out...
Keep it clean, people!! Leadership means you have to take a finger-pointing sometimes. It's no big deal.
At least you're not dirty like a pig.