Every moment in your life, good or bad, big or small, help sculpt the person that you are becoming.
For one of my other businesses, Moments With Class, I provide caps and gowns to graduating seniors. It’s a very rewarding business being able to play a small part in their 10 to 14 years of education. Part of the job is customer service. One of the things we like to do is deliver the caps and gowns to graduation practice and see the smiles on their faces knowing they accomplished something amazing. I’ve done many of these, but one in general has stuck with me.
On May 16, 2018 it started as a typical graduation rehearsal. The seniors gathered on the bleachers and the principal began to share with them how proud he was of this class and saying how it was one of his most enjoyable classes. It may not have been the smartest class, or the most athletic class, but it was the most enjoyable class. I could just tell that there was a mutual respect between the principal and his students. There were a few seconds of silence. The students weren’t on their cell phones; they gave him the respect that he had of them. Suddenly, breaking through the silence I hear the sounds, “boom, boom, boom.”
At first, I thought it was a bad senior prank. It wasn’t until I saw a teacher dodging out of the way that I knew it wasn’t a joke. Somebody had unloaded gunfire. A student shot at a gym teacher who jumped out of the way and yelled into the hallway that there was an active shooter. People were running every which way and my mind went into slow motion. All I could think was, “is this real?” We hear on the news that these things happen to people all around us, but you never think that nightmare is going to happen to you, until it does. People were scrambling out of the gym, through the parking lot, and across the street. I heard two more shots and it still doesn’t feel real. After a little while all the graduating seniors, were brought over to this armory where a marine made sure everyone was there and okay.
It was the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, in my entire life. Nearly three hours later I was able to get back into the gym to get my keys and suitcase. There was a circus of helicopters and media all around the school. I find my way through the chaos and get to my car where I begin to cry. I’m sitting there trying to figure out why a 41-year old man is crying, but it’s the emotional decompression of the event that I never thought would happen to me. I couldn’t wait to get home. I hugged my wife and grabbed my kids, thankful that we were all okay. Later that evening, my mother-in-law called me saying that she saw the interview with the shooter’s mother, and he was there to get his cap and gown. That hit me like a ton of bricks. This young man was about to graduate in a few days, and he took all the times he had been wronged in his life and instead of finding the positive in those experiences he only focused on the negative.
Now that I’ve had time to process it all, I’m at a point where I’m angry. I’m angry that there’s students that are hurting in life and that’s not fair. The sooner that we can accept that, the sooner we can start being more positive people. If you read my last blog, I grew up as the “stupid kid”. School was a prison sentence to me, but the thing that got me through it was the opportunity to play sports. My point is, we all have negative situations.
To help us cope with the negative experiences, I want to introduce the “Piggy Bank Principle”. We have all had a piggy bank at some point in our life. As a kid you looked under seat cushions, in the car, anywhere you may find a penny, nickel, or dime. Once the jar was full, we would go to the bank. The teller would pour it into the machine, and you would watch the amount tick up; $5 to $10 to $20, and maybe even $100. You would put that money back into the bank where they would process it and it would start gaining interest. That $10 you put in from your piggy bank, may turn into $100 later in life. That initial investment you put into the bank at one time, is worth so much more years later. So why don’t we do that with our negative situations?
Take those negative experiences and put them into your internal piggy bank inside of you. It’s going to sit there, and life will be hard, you may shed some tears, it’s going to feel like a dagger in your heart some days. But those negative situations have value. 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, those life experiences will craft you into the man or woman that you are going to become. I’m 41-years old and those experiences made me the business owner that I am today and the father that I am today. There was so much astronomical value in my struggling high school days and the shooting that I was a part of. Looking back, those times have molded and shaped me. Think about a job you have lost, an opportunity that you missed out on, something that you had to learn from. There’s so much value, so many life lessons, so much experience gained in that time period that it makes you a better person, salesman, business owner, doctor, lawyer, teacher, parent, the list goes on-and-on. When a negative thing happens, embrace it. Park it in the piggy bank because it may not feel like it right now, but it will have so much value later in life.
Have yourself an amazing day!
Enjoy this keynote I performed on the topic of the Piggy Bank Principle!