I heard a phrase, once, while working in Texas. “All hat, no cattle.” It was in reference to someone who talks big, but can’t back it up. Talking a good game is worthless if you can’t actually play a good game.
During a planning session for a production, a director kept describing things they were going to do in a show. Things that defied logic, reality, physics and even gravity. Once I realized that they were completely unqualified to be in charge, I said so. After I pointed out the second or third ridiculous idea, something that could potentially kill or injure a performer, they decided they didn’t need me on the crew. I was tagged as a “bubble buster.” Ok. Fine. But I am pretty sure I saved someone’s life.
It’s easy to bust someone’s bubble, and tell them that they are just full of crap, when you don’t know or like them anyway. It’s harder when it’s someone close to you. Maybe family or a close friend. I have two guys in my world, right now, who are in need of a bubble busting.
Can I tell you a horror story first? About when it happened to me?
Sure, Erik. We would love to hear that.
Glad you feel that way, thanks.
After years of working a business that should have been a hobby, we were still broke. Years of investing time and money into something that still didn’t pay the bills put a huge strain in my marriage. Even to the point where I was burning through her paycheck just to keep the bills paid. My business was costing us money.
My late night research and reading ended up leaving me with a quiet house as everyone else slept. In the process of trying to do better for my family, I wandered back into the porn I had broken free of years earlier. I ended up detached, to a certain extent, from reality. ( Take note of that. Easy to get into, almost impossible to escape. Don’t do it. )
It took a long time to understand my own logic. I had initially started the business to help my family get ahead. I had ambition and determination to build it up into something my kids could have one day. Something to provide for us, and bring us together. The problems was, it did neither. It became an ego trip hobby that benefitted nobody but me. Eventually I realized my kids wanted nothing to do with it. They resented it because it kept me away from home so much.
In the kids movie, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, a guy was explaining how his big plan was to work hard for the next five years so he could do whatever he wanted with his kids. The guy listening said, “that’s a great plan, except for one thing. In five years, they won’t be kids anymore.” Yeah. I missed that detail, too. I wasted a lot of good years, that should have been spent with my kids.
My desire to be a good husband and father, gradually deteriorated into a desperate desire to LOOK like a good husband and father. I put more effort into looking like a good man than actually being one. To the folks around us, I looked like a good guy. At home, though, I had rotten fruit and and a family that was losing respect for me fast.
Image is worthless without substance.
So, while I was under the delusional impression that I was doing good, because it looked like I was doing good, I wasn’t. I was losing my family. I knew my business, I just wasn’t making enough money to live on from it. I was doing good things for my wife, but only to provoke the responses from her that I wanted. I was spending time with my kids, but only doing things I wanted to do. I had become a very selfish and angry person along this stretch of time. I became controlling and manipulative.
So, how did my bubble get busted?
When my wife said she was done with me.
Think of this…
When the three little pigs became contractors, they each decided how much effort to put into their homes. Straw and sticks can be piled up quickly, into a shelter, but it’s not permanent. It might look like a house, but it’s just the appearance of one. It doesn’t offer the security or strength of a real house.
The one who invested the time and effort to put brick and mortar around him was the one who survived. Not fluff, filler or facade. Tried by fire, brick and mortar.
He was also the one the others ran to, once their world crashed down. He built something solid, something real.
When we pretend to be good men, we waste time and energy that can go into actually making progress. That little stick and straw house is coming down, once the storms hit. Then, you can sit and suffer, or tear it down and build it right.
The only part of my story that I get credit for, was when Joel Davisson chewed me out and I decided to listen. When everything inside me wanted to tell him to shut up and end that call, I didn’t. My straw house was already blown away. I knew that there was a problem I couldn’t solve. I had already done what all the traditional church counselors had said, and none of it was going to stop that divorce.
I had to admit I failed. I had to face reality. I had to humble myself and allow someone to teach me.
Then, I had to listen and learn. I had to do what I was told. And it worked.
If you are one of the guys I mentioned earlier, pay attention. If you are like them, you listen, too.
Burning up thousands of dollars and years of you life, on things that have produced nothing, needs to stop. Stealing time from your family and wasting money is not benefitting them. If you have been investing and studying and developing some kind of plan or business, that hasn’t produced anything for years… Reconsider it. Right now.
Most guys can live a happier, and more productive life, working a steady job and having the weekends with the family. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have bigger dreams and plans, start small. Work it part time. Do it on time that isn’t being taken away from your family.
If you feel obligated to live in a fantasy world, exaggerating every story, making up stuff… You are just wasting time. Learn to tell the truth. Learn to be honest. Stop justifying every action and trying to convince everyone of what a great guy you are. Stop producing so much drama around you. We don’t need a detailed explanation of every second of your life, especially one full of exaggerations.
There are plenty of us that love you, in spite of your insanity. We don’t need you to appear like more than you are. Every conversation doesn’t have to be an opportunity to take over and tell everyone more about yourself. Relationship are built better on listening and making others feel valuable, than blowing bubbles and trying to impress us.
Bottom line. If you are self-centered, full of crap or just generally arrogant… Everyone around you already knows it. You aren’t fooling anyone. Some just choose to love you and accept you regardless. Some feel less obligated to enable or encourage you. Face reality. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with the ones who matter to you. Stop defending your foolishness and grow up.
Get some cattle or lose the hat. Stop working so hard to impress people who don’t even matter. Your wife, your kids… Work to bless and impress them. Put all that effort into making life good for them. Focus on doing stuff with them, instead of for them. There’s a big difference. Be the man for them.
Stop defending a straw house and go get some bricks.