My brother is well known for a silly joke that he told for years…..
Let me set the scene for you. There is a guy and girl sitting in the lower level seats at a sporting event. People are everywhere. The two are talking, having a great time, enjoying some nachos and cheese, and taking in the event.
All of a sudden, a guy several rows behind them yells “HEY JOE!!!!”. The guy stops talking, looks to his left, as far as he can see. Then he turns to this right, looking and looking. Turns back and starts talking to the girl again.
A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!’ same situation….
A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!’ same situation….by this time the guy is getting frustrated. He has stopped talking three times now, looked around, and tried to see who is yelling.
A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!’
The guy turns to the girl – with an angry look on his face – hands her the nachos and says “hold these for a minute!” and stands up turns toward the back of the ground and yells “MY NAME IS NOT JOE!!!!”
My brother used to tell this “joke” everywhere he went. It was not uncommon for someone in my family to say “HEY JOE” to my brother at family events, and he would turn around and say “MY NAME’S NOT JOE!!”. It is something that will stick with my brother for the rest of his life, I’m sure.
Whether you laugh at this ridiculously corny joke or not, there is a story to be told.
In his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren opens with four simple words…..”Its not about you”. And there could be no more true statement. The young man in my joke was sitting in a whole crowd of people. As you are listening to the joke, I’m sure you were thinking that this guy’s name would be “Joe”. Why would you not? He kept looking everytime the guy yelled “Hey Joe!!”. But the punchline tells us the story. A story about a young man who assumed that everyone was talking to him, and that surely this guy must be talking to him but have the wrong name.
Now I don’t think any of you would do this at an event. If you or I heard someone yelling “Hey Joe!!”, we would just assume that this person was not calling for us (unless, of course, your name is Joe). But thing I want you to think about today is beyond this story. Are you living in a world where you think it’s all about you?
I’ll be honest….our society has evolved to the “me” concept. As much as I love Apple products, they put “I” in front of each of them (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc). We didn’t even have “selfies” until just recently. But now everyone is posting pictures of themselves on social media everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, everyone does it. And if you’re a selfie fan, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, or that you’re not a good person. It’s just an observation of how our society has changed.
I remember growing up – it WAS about me. I had to study to pass my classes, I had to decide what I wanted to study in college. I had to take that job so that I could pay for my expenses in college. I had to search and find that first job after I graduated, and I had to take care of myself.
But today I’m here to share with you 3 times that I realized it was not about me:
- The first time I realized it was not about me, was when my son was born. The delivery was difficult, and the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section to bring him into the world. When he arrived, they handed him to me, and went back to taking care of his mom. I remember that day very well. The way he looked at me, as if to say “Are you the dude that is going to take care of me?”. They say when you become a parent you finally realize unconditional love. That was true for me. And that was the day I knew I had to take care of myself, my health, my finances, and everything else, so that I could also take care of him. It no longer was about me. I was about me and him.
- The second time I realized it was not about me was when I became a manager: In 6th grade, I took a test on an Apple II/e computer and got my “computer certification” in elementary school. I remember going home and telling my mom, “I’m going to be a programmer and I’m going to do that all of my life!!”. Well, the first part was true. I went to school to be a programmer, I got a job as developer, and I loved it. But the true passion in my career came when I became a manager, and it was no longer about me. The situation was very similar to having that first child. I was now responsible for a “team” and not just myself. My decisions would affect them just as much as me. It was no longer about me at work, I was about the team.
- The third time I realized it was not about me was when I became a speaker: We love meetings in the office. I participated in many meetings. I even led many of them. I had given advice and guidance, but in 2012, I realized a new passion that would change my future forever. I was asked to speak at a conference on software testing. Halfway through my 2 hour session, I started to notice something. People actually “WANTED” to hear me talk. They were listening to every word, and they were asking questions. They were involved. It felt like that moment, years before, when my son was looking at me on his “Day 1” – as if to say “are you going to take care of us?”. I have made sure that along the way, as I speak more at conferences and events, I try to give each and every attendee something to take away with them that they can never forget. It is no longer about me. It is now about EVERYONE.
I leave you with this challenge. Who do you meet often that you could make a difference in their lives? What can you do today to build those relationships and make a difference in someone’s life, career, or future?
But wherever you go…whatever you do…never forget, “It’s not about you”.