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People Tell You Who They Are

The most useful proverb I ever heard was taught to me by a Mexican grandmother.  I use it every day.  It has changed my relationships.  It has changed how I work with clients.   You will not believe how much you can learn about people with this simple proverb.

One proverb has changed the way I look at people.

"The lion believes that all are like him."

(I believe the Spanish is, "El leon cree que todos son de su condicion."  Spanish speakers, please educate me if I'm wrong.)

The longer I live, the more I realize the genius of this simple proverb.  People tell you who they are by telling you what they expect other people to do.  Examples?

I once had an employee who meticulously locked up his tools.  At first, I thought this was marvelous.  The other guys left tools lying about everywhere.  We even had customers return tools which had been left in their cars.  So when the new guy locked up his tools I thought he did it out of respect for his tools.  Wrong.  Why do you lock up things?  Because you expect someone to steal them.  He locked up his tools because he expected people to steal them.  If I'd known this proverb at that time  I could have saved myself and the business a lot of heartache.  

The lion believes that all are like him.  

Who expects you to steal from them?  A thief.  It turned out this guy was robbing the business blind;  he stole other people's tools, he stole customers, he stole supplies.  That's why he locked up his tools.  A thief expects you to steal from him because he would steal from you.  The other guys left tools lying around because it never occurred to them someone would steal them, because they wouldn't steal.

Another example?

I was with an acquaintance in a restaurant where the meals, once they were prepared for the customers, were placed on trolleys that carried them around the restaurant until they reached the table which ordered them.  The man I was with noted that this was an interesting set up and wondered why someone didn't spit in the food as it went by, or steal it.  Wow.  Seriously?  Who would do that?  He would. In telling me what he expected of others, he inadvertently told me what he himself would do.  He turned out to be very passive aggressive.  He would smile in your face and go along with everything you said.  Everyone initially thought he was the nicest, most agreeable, person in the world.  I eventually began to realize he was very bitter and filled with resentment.  He took great delight in maliciously sabotaging people behind their backs.  He also took a perverse delight in furtively harming innocent strangers, i.e. spitting in their food as it passed by.  

The lion believes that all are like him.

Do you want to know who is around you?  Spend more time listening.  Ask questions.  "What would you do?"  "How would you handle it?"  When the guy in the restaurant said, "That's an interesting set up"  I knew to ask him, "Oh, what's interesting about it?"  Try it yourself.  The answers might be revealing.







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I used to be the lion...

Many many years ago I believed a relationship was for two people to be nice to each other and I could not conceive that it would be any other way, I expected to be loved and treated well; we even had two cubs. The abuse crept up upon me like a lion too.

Now it's my personal boundaries that allow me to visit the zoo without being eaten, I "paws" for thought before I leap and take pride in my own savannah. lol, sorry Kellen, but we have much to learn from animals.

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