Now what do you do?
“…though on the surface it seemed every person was different, this was not true. . . . Whatever way one took in this world, one must try to remember that all were suffering (none content; all wronged, neglected, overlooked, misunderstood), and therefore one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact.”
~ George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
I don’t know whether personal suffering develops empathy or whether empaths feel suffering more acutely.
I just know that I’ve had to risk my own heart over and over hoping to become better.
I’m a work in progress.
I’ve learned that no matter what we see on the outside — the swagger in front of the crowds, the life pictured in amazing FB posts and Instagram pics — most of us have some internal doubt and pain we haven’t really dealt with yet.
Often, in my work, I spend as much time on these unseen obstacles to success, to healing, as I do on clocks and research and ratings.
I wasn’t sure why. I’m still not sure why. It just seems to happen.
Early in my life, as far back as I can remember actually, people have shared their emotional stuff with me.
It even happens overseas, in cultures very different from America’s, where I’m not fluent in their language.
I’ve asked my wife why, even in foreign countries, total strangers walk up to me and ask directions or start a conversation. Within a couple of minutes, they’re sharing their life with me: divorce or cancer or a child’s suicide.
She says I have a kind face. I tell her I must remind them of their grandfather: slightly decrepit, obviously harmless.
I’m an introvert. I don’t seek people out and I require lots of solitude and space.
So this guy’s story is familiar to me in many ways.
I don’t mean his level of success, only that the way he approaches his work feels close to mine.
And honestly, I am more interested in the emotional parts of why we succeed or fail than I am in EBITDA or the intricacies of Nielsen.
I’ve been so lucky. I get to work with some of the greatest radio stations and media companies around the world.
I work with incredibly talented people who would’ve — who have — succeeded without me.
I often tell them they’ve taught me more than I’ve ever taught them.
It’s not false modesty. It’s the truth.
But, hopefully, our relationship has been productive in ways other than the one by which our industry usually scores our value.
I know it has for me.