The Lowe Down: Reading signs…

Reading people can be as easy as reading baseball signs. The key to both is to pay attention. Just as we can recognize that an arm swipe across the chest, a couple taps on the nose and a solid ear tug can indicate the next pitch will be a curve ball, giving people the freedom to do what they want to do will signify what they would rather do. It sounds simple enough, but if we observe people closely, we can clearly see their intentions, motivations and loyalties.

It’s not difficult to be a reader of people, we just have to be intentional in noticing their tells or signs. So often we allow our feelings about people to influence whether we permit them to disrespect us when we ignore red flags. If we aren’t careful, we can actually hurt our own feelings by thinking we mean more to people than we really do.

One clear message that people regularly ignore is when there is no contact or a failure to respond to a communication. No contact is an answer. Instead people continue to reach out to their silent counterpart for interaction. In reality, if we were essential to the other person, they would make it a priority to respond. As I always say, people always do what is important to them.

A repeated lack of follow through after we’ve asked for assistance, can indicate that we aren’t a priority. Many times we ignore those signs. If a person has to continually remind, to the point they feel badly, then it’s a clear symptom that things are lopsided. So again, let people do what they want to do and it will reveal their real priorities. Once those priorities are laid bare to us, then we have to decide what we will do about this realization. When we observe a person’s intentions it’s like holding their road map. It may not change our feelings about them, but it does show us the lay of the land. It’s a tool that makes it possible for us to decide where and how to go.

The fact is, sometimes jobs, opportunities or even people, aren’t meant for us. We often live with the assumption that if we work hard enough, do good works and behave as others expect us to do, that things will work out for us. We may believe that if we keep our nose clean we will be rewarded that promotion, golden opportunities or the person with which we want to spend more time. People often live under the mistaken assumption that life, love, and luck operate on a merit system. Life just doesn’t work that way. People don’t always get what they deserve, good or bad. Occasionally we may overhear someone say that a particular bad actor will get what they deserve for corrupt or wicked behavior, but we need to realize that some people who do bad things go through life unscathed. And earnest hardworking people can still lose even if they put their whole heart into something. Nothing in life is fair. There are no guarantees. Sometimes parents try to shield children from that reality. Do you doubt that? I have two words for you; participation awards.

The bottom line is we are responsible for the choices we make and those choices will determine our degree of success in life. Along the road to fulfilling our purpose, we must be adept at seeing through to the heart of people, and most importantly to know who we actually are, not who we think we are or who those around us expect us to be.

Contrary to what we may think, our purpose is not really about us. It’s about how we use our talents to serve our community around us. Some people take a detour off the road to happiness by focusing on getting what they want instead of finding their purpose. Fixating on getting what we want is how signs often go unnoticed.

It takes bravery to normalize rejection and realize that it happens to everyone. And even more courage to take the appropriate action when we see the signals. Rejection impels us to move on and away from people or things not meant for us. It’s means the difference between being tolerated and being celebrated.

When friends have been despondent over not getting hired for a job they desired, or a relationship that didn’t pan out, I sometimes share my own experiences about how not getting what I thought I wanted turned out to lead to things that were meant for me.

We must deal with rejection and failure head on in order to come to know that we will never learn how to succeed until we fail. Then we move on, not because we aren’t stinging and wounded, but because we clearly see the signs that there are better things in store for us.

Pam Lowe is the editor of the Clay County Courier, a small town newspaper in Arkansas. Readers may contact Pam at