Why would you say that?

Consider the motivation

Why were those words spoken to you? What was the motivation or the speaker’s priorities? Sometimes the words might ring true, the criticism might be constructive or the admonition right on target, but the motive behind it may be simply malicious. Sometimes the opposite is true. The motive is well intended and the heart is in the right place, to make us a better employee, father, teacher etc. but the timing, words or even sense of correction is too far off target to be helpful.

  •  Have you ever had strong encouragement about your parenting skills from someone who has no children?
  • Or advice about your resume from someone chronically unemployed?

I had a friend named Tim in high school. We were inseparable in many ways to the dismay of his mother and mine I am afraid. We created more havoc than any two boys I have ever known. Surely you have seen those very clever insurance commercials of late with the man known only as “mayhem.” He had nothing on us.

But Tim and I, clever as we were, always had a way of engineering disaster. When I bought my first car, three years before I got a license to drive it, we decided to get it running, just the two of us. I had two uncles who could rebuild a motor with a toothpick and duct tape, so we were convinced it couldn’t be that hard. After we got the carburetor off, and back on again and tried to start it, we discovered mechanicing is not so easy. We decide we should prime it…with half a gallon of pure unleaded gasoline. Whoosh! now that’s a fire. Tim exclaimed, “I told you the terminal bypass was bad! You just destroyed the conutenater valve!”

Tim always had a wise sounding answer. The conutenater valve, or the terminal bypass was to blame regardless of the device, situation or location of the calamity. We once built a chair that was a cross between a hammock and a bear trap. We dragged it all over town, remember we were too young to drive, besides it was really comfortable. He tried once to sit in the chair after too much cough syrup… he missed and fell on the side rail, just then the bear trap mechanism kicked in. I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. Guess what went wrong. You got it , the conutenater valve failed and the terminal bypass got him. Tim had all the good intentions in the world, but ultimately he was as clueless as I was.

In contrast, I had been a Fire Fighter in the Air Force all of a month. I arrived at my first duty station Reese Airplane patch in Lubbock, Texas. I checked into the dorms and hooked up with my sponsor to show me around. Airman Bardwell and I hit it off. He was smart, dedicated and had been around for a while. When I showed up at work my first day it was training, training and more training. I was exhausted by the time 4pm rolled around. That was down time. We couldn’t leave the fire station because we were still on duty, but we could relax, work out, read or watch TV at our leisure. I was in the gym when Airman Bardwell came in announced, “The Chief has an errand for you. We seem to be out of a couple of things we need here at the station. Take this requisition order over to the air control tower and see if they have any to spare.” There it was, clearly marked on the req. order, 100 feet of flight line and five gallons of prop wash and I had my orders to go get them.

In case that one is lost on you. Flight line is the phrase used to describe the facilities that are adjacent to the runway… and prop wash is the wind created by the turbulence of a spinning blade. The instructions sounded legitimate, but the motives were all about making me to be the butt of a joke.

When you hear someone speak to you, especially words of instruction, always consider the motivation behind the words.

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