Being authentic doesn’t mean that you refuse to grow, or that you remain a victim of your biases, shortcomings, and inclinations. It means taking the correct actions to improve; becoming a better, more effective, truly authentic version of your…self! And this is the first lesson Jackson Hill learns while in conversation with his new mentor, the honorable Judge Celia Henshaw (retired).
The scene is Rachel’s Famous Coffee; actually the first of what — after just 10 years — is now a widely regarded chain of thousands of such establishments instantly recognized around the globe.
“Your reaction wasn’t based on the facts of what happened, but purely on your own feelings. Which are not always entirely trustworthy.”
“But he could have gotten us both killed!” said Jackson.
“But he didn’t,” countered the Judge. “He cut you off, and as far as the evidence is concerned, the facts stop there. More to the point is what you did.”
“What do you mean, What I did?” Jackson asked.
“You shouted so loud you thought it might crack your windshield.” she said, smiling. “You shouted your feelings out loud, inside your car. In your meeting, you shouted them silently inside your head. Either way, it’s still shouting.
“You were out of control. You could have gotten you both killed.”
Jackson was silent.
She put her hand on his arm.
“It’s okay to have your feelings, Jackson. You don’t even have to change them. All the first clause says you just have to set them to the side. They can be along for the ride—but in the passenger’s seat. Because if you let your emotions drive the car, then you’re at the mercy of a drunk driver.”
The Judge poured herself more hot coffee from the carafe.
“When you go downtown at rush hour,” she said, “what do you hear? A grand cacophony of car horns–bleating, honking, blaring. It’s the quintessential urban sound signature, right?”
“All those feelings, driving all those cars.” She shook her head sadly. “It’s no wonder the world needs judges and mediators.
“Conflict is everywhere. Alas. And it’s entirely understandable. It’s how we’re wired. Flight, flight, or freeze.”
After a moment Jackson said, “So if that’s how we’re wired, what do we do?”
She smiled. “Rewire. Scientists call lit neuroplasticity. I call it … well?” She raised her eyebrows at him as if to say, What would you call it?
“Mastering your emotions,” he said.
She smiled. “It takes time to retrain your default response. Time and repetition. Practice. But it works. Every time you’re successful at responding by unruffling your feelings, it strikes a chord inside. It’s like thrumming the low E string on a base guitar, and you are a song in the key of E. You experience a sense of a trueness, a sense that says, This is me, the real me. This is how I am in the world. And it changes your brain, a little bit at a time. It wires new connections, cuts new pathways.
“In time, you make calm your default setting. And as you do, you become more you.”
Excerpted from John David Mann’s and my soon-to-be-released (April 10, 2018) parable, The Go-Giver Influencer, by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Pre-order here.