When I was in my late twenties, during an early point in my sales career, I called on Mr. Simmons, an elderly man whose printing company was located in an old St. Paul, Minnesota office and manufacturing building. I was a paper salesman and he was one of my printer customers.
Once he was seated at his large desk located right in the middle of his noisy production floor. He beckoned me to come over.
His checkbook was on the desk and he asked me to look at his account balance. It was $8,000, a sizeable amount of money in 1980. Then he told me, “I don’t need the aggravation.”
Mr. Simmons was telling me that his financial success had given him power; that he didn’t have to allow himself to be concerned or disturbed by unpleasant situations (aggravations) that could upset his inner peace. He had achieved a level of self-actualization an
d had established boundaries with the rest of the world.
As I’ve thought about that sales call decades ago, I’ve continued to realize how valuable and relevant his words are for us today: I don’t need the aggravation. He could have as easily said, “I don’t need the stress.”
In his case, financial stability was his tool to beat stress; that others couldn’t make him seem worthless or aggravate him because he knew he was financially successful. What we must do is review the values we are proud to possess and our accomplishments. When we are confronted by others who want to turn our world upside down, we can draw on our values and successful past experiences and realize those people don’t have a clue about how great we are!
Mr. Simmons had successfully orchestrated his life by:
- Knowing what it takes to be at peace with oneself. His peace was financial security. (But peace can also include strong personal values, spirituality, meaningful relationships, or any combination of a number of positive results in life).
- Establishing boundaries to prevent or at least minimize the number of aggravations in his life. He wasn’t going to allow others create stress in his life.
I have long lost the opportunity to ask Mr. Simmons these questions: “Sir, at what age did you come to realize you don’t need the aggravation?” “Once you realized you didn’t need it, how long did it take you to stop or at least reduce aggravation in your life?” I’m guessing he’d have told me and everyone else who asked him that second question, “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself!”
EXERCISE: Think of three really important values you possess and three really important accomplishments in your life.
BOTTOM LINE: Use your values and accomplishments to build up your confidence and reduce stress. Recall the values you are proud to possess and your successes whenever someone does something to belittle or aggravate you. Realize you don’t deserve to be treated that way. With confidence (and boundaries on the behavior you’ll acceptfrom others), people won’t get to you.