I had the pleasure of working with a very talented advisor last week. Unfortunately, he was fighting with the decision to make a vocational change. He asked about myself, why I left retail and decided to work with a vendor. I explained a little about my career and the success I’ve had as an advisor, how it takes time and patience. He is younger, early twenties, a very hard worker. He reminded me a lot of myself ten years ago, driven, with the world ahead of him, and like me, he wanted it now.
As we talked about what he could use his skill set to do, this question came up; “Is the grass greener on the other side?” As we talked, I realized how ridiculous that question really is.
We live in a culture of being reminded of what we don’t have. Magazines are covered with photoshop altered celebrities, our commercials constantly remind us we don’t own the newest car. So naturally we look at other job opportunities through rose colored glasses. Unsatisfied with where we are, we romanticize about how great it would be to be here, or there.
When we can’t make the career change we desire, we use the adage “the grass is always greener on the other side.” We look at the new ideal job and tell ourselves all the negative things about that dream to make us feel better about our current situation. For example; I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster. What a life that would be! To be with all the athletes and see all the big games. When I realized that wasn’t achievable, I thought well that’s good; I can’t imagine the travel, the late nights, the time away from family. Good thing I didn’t do that!
We are focusing on the negative things about an ideal situation to forget about the negative things about our reality. Notice the trend there? Negativity. To explain this to the advisor I came up with the following visualization.
Imagine you live in the middle of a neighborhood. Your neighbor to the left has a better yard than you, some really green grass. You look over his white picket fence to see some new mulch, perfectly groomed bushes and not a single leaf out of place. You look back at your yard, it’s nice. Fairly green, some weeds here and there, your shrubs could be cleaned up. Your sidewalk could stand to be swept, but all in all, nice. You are conditioned though, to look to the left and see what you don’t have. This guy’s grass is literally greener on the other side of the fence.
One day you go to get the mail, looking at the new water feature your neighbor just had installed. When you turn back to walk up to your door, you notice your neighbor to the right looking at your yard. His yard is pretty sad compared to yours. He has dry patches and weeds in his garden. His bushes are overgrown and his lone tree is dying.
You stop to ask, “You notice that new water fountain?” pointing up the street to your neighbor on the left.
“Nope.” He responds. “I did however, notice how great your lawn looks today.”
We are so consumed with looking at what we don’t have, we never turn around to see the people looking up to what we do have. Instead of using an old saying built of negativity, we need to change our perspective to positivity.
I guarantee if you look, there is someone out there that would love to be where you are. Whether it is your home, your job, your marriage, your friendships and so on. We need to change the focus to positivity and realize what we already have, or we are doomed to always be wishing we had that greener grass, all the while our grass is already pretty green.
I asked the advisor about why he started working there in the first place. He told me about how he loves helping customers, loves the fast pace, the always changing days. He started to light up as he told me stories of his success. Turns out he had been training another employee that really looks up to him.
“So, you are like a mentor then?” I asked. “Even though you may not be where you want to be. It sounds like right now, you might be the neighbor on his left.”