My 2nd grade teacher at the time walked over and told me that I needed to go to the principal's office. For a seven-year old, being told to go to the principal's office instantly brings up the fight or flight response, but not this time.
I knew the principal was going to announce the winner of the election for 3rd grade president, and I eagerly leaped out of my chair to head to the office.
For the past few weeks, I'd made posters and even gave a speech in front of all the students on why they should vote for me. There were only two other people running for 3rd grade president at the time, and I figured I was a shoe in.
I felt like I was well liked by my classmates, and worst-case scenario is that I'd come in 2nd place and be Vice President.
The three of us sat impatiently outside the principal's office waiting to be called in. I tried to keep myself occupied by staring at the poster advertising next weeks' book fair, but I was a nervous wreck and kept fidgeting in my seat.
Finally the principal poked his head out of the office and looked at the three of us. He smiled, and then motioned us into his office. He told us that all three of us did a great job, and he was proud of us. Then he announced the results.
I came in third.
After he announced the results, we all stood up and walked out of his office. At least I think I was walking, as my legs felt completely numb. It never even popped into my seven-year old brain that I could lose.
I was devastated! How could this have happened? The boy who came in first place used to pee in his pants back in kindergarten. How in the hell did I lose to "Pee Pee" boy?
The girl who won 2nd place was actually in my same class and I had a major crush on her. I even gave her a few of my tater tots during lunch, and pushed her on the swing sometimes during recess. How could the love of my life betray me like this?
No more tater tots for you, and I hope you fall off the swing next time!
The dreadful walk back to my teacher's room took twice as long as normal, as I really didn't want to walk back into the classroom. I slowly walked in as I tried to avoid eye contact with anyone. I slumped down into my chair with the weight of the world on my shoulders.
"Did you win?", one of my classmates asked me.
"Wow.......well I wish I had voted for you then!"
That was the last straw. My little seven-year old heart just couldn't take anymore. I remember asking my teacher if I could go use the bathroom. I got up, walked into the bathroom....and cried.
I must have cried uncontrollably for at least fifteen or twenty minutes before I finally composed myself and went back to my seat. The rest of the day was pretty much a blur, as all I could think about was coming in last place.
When I went home that day, my mom let me know the teacher had called. The teacher told her that I lost the election, and that I cried in the bathroom.
Talk about adding insult to injury. One.....if the teacher heard me crying, that meant my classmates probably heard it too. Second, why did the teacher have to call and tell my mom of all people?
I didn't know it at the time, but I subconsciously made a few Key Decisions that day.
What are Key Decisions, and Why Do They Matter?
A key decision is an important decision that serves as a guideline for other smaller decisions or choices you make in your life. Usually a key decision is made during an emotional or traumatic time during your life.
For example if you grew up in a house with an alcoholic mother, you may have decided at a young age that anyone who drinks alcohol isn't a good person. If your father walked out on your mother, you may have made the unconscious choice that men aren't trustworthy. Maybe someone called you ugly once, and now you think people don't want to date you.
Unfortunately, most key decisions we make will ultimately cause us more harm than good.
In middle school, I started playing musical instruments and became pretty good at it. My music teacher wanted me to try out for All-State band, but I didn't want to. (Remember what happened the last time I put myself out there?)
I remember her calling me into her office one day, pleading for me to go but I refused. I got home from school that day to find out that my music teacher called my parents and told them I didn't want to audition.
(Why do my teachers have to call my parents about everything?)
My dad sat me down for a lecture. My dad has a way of giving lectures that make you feel like you're being water-boarded by the CIA, so I knew I was in for a long night.
As a young kid, his parents signed him up for violin lessons. At one point, he became so good that he had the chance to study with a famous violin teacher from Russia.
As a young black kid growing up in the 1950's in North Carolina, you can only imagine the teasing he got from his friends because he played the violin.
As a result, he quit playing the violin (Key Decision) and never played another musical instrument. He said that he will always regret that decision, and didn't want me to make the same mistake by not auditioning for All-State band.
Reluctantly, I auditioned on both the tuba and trombone, and I made the All-State band on both instruments. I even won 1st chair tuba as a seventh grader, but even that wasn't enough to break me out of my key decision.
Looking back on my high school and college years, I can think of hundreds of opportunities that I passed on because I didn't want to put myself out there only to be rejected.
I remember being stuck in the friend zone with a few women from high school and college because I was too afraid to ask them out on a date and get rejected.
Truth be told, a lot of the women I dated in my 20's were women who expressed interest in me first. That way, I didn't have to worry about being rejected.
Even in my professional career I always wanted more money, but I wouldn't even apply for management positions because I didn't want to be turned down.
These key decisions may have worked well for the seven-year old version of me, but no longer serves me as an adult. It wasn't until I changed my way of thinking that I started to see more success in my life as a result.
What key decisions have you made in your own life that are no longer serving you? As an introvert, we often decide early on (or we're told by others) that we're weird for wanting to be alone at times, or that people don't value our opinions.
Maybe you've made the decision that you're socially awkward because you struggle with what to say at parties, networking events, or social events?
What's critical here is to go back to when you made these Key Decisions, and come up with a new choice or decision that works better for you. This time, you'll be making a decision based on a position of strength rather than just reacting emotionally.
These decisions you make are often a result of your ego trying to protect itself from getting hurt.
Old Key Decision: People don't like me because I lost the election. Obviously I suck.
New Key Decision: Some people voted for me, which means some people like me. I should focus on the people who like instead of the ones who don't.
Old Key Decision: I'm an introvert, so I'm just no good at talking in front of large groups
New Key Decision: Public speaking is a skill that can be learned. I'm going to join Toastmasters so I can become a better public speaker.
How would your life be different if you were able to see these old decisions from a different point of view?
What type of life would you live if you ignored these beliefs and chose to take action anyway?
If you're an introvert who's struggling with repeating the same negative patterns over and over, reach out to me and let's schedule a call. During our call, we'll dive into your hidden beliefs and key decisions that may be holding you back and sabotaging your success.