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I tell my kids this…
I received an email from a friend with a nice winding story in it about coincidences and connectedness. One thing led to another and things just sort of came full circle. This email reminded me about a couple things I tell my kids:
- You never know how something you say or do is going to impact someone.
- Remember that the toes you step on today may one day be connected to the butt you have to kiss.
Just to not leave you hanging, the email I mentioned told a story about how this friend and I reconnected via email not long ago. This after 20+ years of not seeing or talking to one another. As fortune would have it, he is an author and I narrate audio books. As it turns out, I was not going to be able to do justice to the narration of his books, but it has sparked an ongoing discussion over email (we literally live on opposite sides of the planet).
In this most recent email, he told me about how some things I wrote in an email encouraged him to start looking into how to best market his books, but he also encouraged me to write my book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting Started in Voice Over (But Didn’t Know Who to Ask).
Along the way…
Along the way in doing research for marketing his books, he ran across another old friend who mentioned he could translate his books from English to Italian at a very reasonable price. After receiving the first 100 or so pages, he asked his daughter to review it (she is fluent in Italian), which she did making a few minor edits for readability. She then mentioned that she wanted to compare the English and Italian versions, but didn’t really have time to read along in both languages, so he suggested she use the audio version of the book in English to listen to while she read the Italian version.
She loved that idea!
And mentioned how much she loved audiobooks, and would like to narrate the Italian version of his book, but she didn’t have the professional setup she used to use to do VO at a previous job. First, he was floored to learn she had done VO previously, and then he mentioned he knew someone who had written a book that contained a couple chapters about setting up your home studio. He then bought her a copy of my book so she could narrate his book!
It all came full circle.
From me saying something that encouraged him, to him encouraging me to write my book, all the way around to his daughter using the book he encouraged me to write (and helped me with it a great deal I might add) to be able to narrate his books! It seems everything in this world is related in some way.
I know that last bit doesn’t really relate fully to the two quotes I tell my kids, but this one does. Same friend, in one of our earliest “reconnecting” email exchanges, mentioned that something I had said offhand while we were stationed together in Southern Italy had affected how he approaches things. The comment had no real meaning to me, but he remembered it 20+ years later. While we were there, he repaired combo TV sets for the Navy Exchange video rental store (WAY back when you had to actually rewind tapes to watch a movie at home). He was turning it over to me as he was leaving and asked how it was going. I told him I had pretty much everything that could be repaired fixed, and he asked how, since it took forever to get parts delivered.
A different approach.
I told him I just talked to the store and asked if I could take all the TV’s and make as many working sets as possible out of the pool of parts in the total lot. I was able to fix 80-90 percent of them simply by pilfering parts from another set. All I said was it turns out the store was interested in having as many working units as possible and didn’t mind losing 2-3 to make all the others work. That comment, a throw away for me, changed how he approaches projects now. You just never know what impact something you say may have, even if it is just a “throw away” comment.
One more example.
At the risk of boring you to death, I’ll give you an example about toes and butts too. So, there I was on Facebook when I should have been working and saw a post (I won’t tell you what it was about) that rubbed me a bit wrong. Admit it, this has happened to all of you I’m sure. So, being me, I made a somewhat snarky, maybe even mildly offensive, comment about the original post. Turns out: Th subject of the original post was also in that group and saw my comment. They definitely called me out, and I had to spend some time groveling and apologizing (rightfully so). To make matters worse, the person in question is a talent agent for both VO and acting. Locally. Where I am trying to get work.
Yep, they were attached.
You guessed it, the toes I stepped on were attached to a butt I would now have to kiss if I wanted to be able to get any work from this agent. NOT a great place to be. As it turns out, that agent was kind and gracious and not ONLY forgave me, but also added me to their roster. Things rarely turn out that well, so I consider myself fortunate.
Same is true with newbies to any industry.
In recent days I’ve see some pretty epic flame spraying of new talent in one particular Facebook group. This flame spraying relates to a newbie asking a question (admittedly over and over and over again) and more “seasoned” pros responding in very sarcastic ways, putting this person down. Now, I GET that this was pretty annoying – but there is no reason to actively discourage someone from pursuing their dream because they are (as yet) ignorant of what’s required. I even tried to mention something along the lines of “Give the guy a break and direct him instead of castigating him”, but my attempt at being reasonable was drowned by the cacophony of people piling on, basically telling this youngster they were stupid and should try some other line of work.
It takes as much effort…
It takes about the same amount of effort to put someone down as it does to lift them up. So why not spend the effort guiding them and lifting them up instead of lambasting them publicly? Give the best advice you can, and if they don’t listen or take the advice, then when they return with the same question later, just ignore them. As my mom used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything”.
So what’s the message here?
This is actually an easy message to decipher, but I will lay it out explicitly anyway. ALWAYS be nice. Be kind (as they say on Quora). At the end of the day, we don’t know HOW something we say (or write) or do is going to impact someone. You may not even be talking TO someone for your words to have an effect. I think we would ALL like the Karma we send out into the universe to return to us in a positive way, and the only way that’s going to happen is for it to be sent in a positive way to begin with.
We all have struggles.
Every one of us, regardless of how we try to make it look on social media, have struggles in our lives. Sometimes large, sometimes small. We have no idea what a given person may be going through, and even if it is something terrible, they may not want everyone to know. It’s imperative we remember that just because someone may be being “not very nice”, that is no reason not to treat them with respect and kindness; they may well be going through something in their life that is making them act that way.
And here is the kicker.
One day YOU are going to be the “not so nice” person, or the newbie, or ignorant of some requirement detail. Wouldn’t you want people to treat YOU with kindness and respect?
Nancy Mason says
Love this so much! You used such great examples, Gary! Thank you for sharing them with all of us!
Gary Mason says
Thanks Hon…love you guys!
I too am annoyed with the ‘cacophony’ of those who will ‘pile on’ when a ‘newbee’ is asking questions in a new ‘space of life’ where the individual aspires to learn and become great in something new.
This is why I salute you, sir Gary… Stay cool and thanks for the writing!
Gary Mason says
It’s kind of amazing how quickly people get derisive, especially when they can hide behind the internet and it’s implied anonymity. It’s a sad state of affairs, but if we all just try to do our part within our spheres of influence, it CAN get better. Thanks for the comment Lamar!
Donna Floyd says
Love it. Great words of wisdom. “Remember that the toes you step on today may one day be connected to the butt you have to kiss.”
Gary Mason says
I’m not perfect, by any stretch, but I try pretty hard not to belittle people or make them feel less valuable!
Joshua Alexander says
OMG- what a great saying that I am adopting post-haste! “Remember that the toes you step on today may one day be connected to the butt you have to kiss.” GOLD. Thank you for this, Gary!
Gary Mason says
Thanks Josh – and if you stop to think about it, it is SO true!