Difficult People Are Part of Human Evolution Too
I sat down at my desk, having just brought a calzone back for lunch. I was going to catch up on NBA draft night rumors during my lunch hour, but I caught a glimpse of an email from my manager.
“UREGNT — NEED WEBSITE PROGRESS UPDATE ASAP,” read the subject (her emphasis, not mine). As if she hadn’t communicated it enough already, she set Microsoft Outlook’s “Sent with High Importance” flag on the message.
So much for enjoying my lunch. I double-clicked the email to open it.
“Paul, I don’t know what is going on with the new website that you’re building. Previously I communicated to you, quite explicitly, that I am expected to show it to senior management next week. Just now I pulled up the site and found that large parts of it have no text on the various pages. Only the site design is complete.”
She continued, “I want to know why you think it is okay to embarrass me in front of management like this. Do you secretly want me to lose my job? Please reply ASAP telling me why you have left this new website in such a dreadful state, and also explain to me what your plan is to have the site complete by the end of the day Friday.”
I sighed and hit Reply.
“You did indeed communicate to me that you want to show the new website to senior management early next week. I understood that loud and clear. I told you I would have the website complete and ready to be shown by Friday afternoon of this week. I asked you if that would be acceptable, and you said yes.”
“But,” I continued, “Today is not Friday. Today is Tuesday.”
“Tweaking the site design is 95% of the work,” I explained in my reply. “I have all the text for the website in a Word document you gave me. Once the design is up to my standards, all I have to do is CTRL-C. CTRL-V a number of times and it will all be there, exactly as you requested. Your Friday afternoon deadline is in no danger.”
“OK I understand,” my manager replied about an hour later. “But do let me know if anything changes.”
She said she understood. However, note that she didn’t apologize for her electronic outburst. People like that never apologize.
Difficult people, put in perspective
Lately I’ve been reading The Science of Being Great, a book written by Wallace Wattles in 1910. It’s the second book he wrote that year, following The Science of Getting Rich. Wattles has a most interesting take on dealing with difficult bosses, and difficult people in general. Wattles likes to take a long-term view — and I mean, a really, really, really long-term view.
Millions of years ago, all kinds of scary creatures roamed the earth. Tyrannosaurus Rex terrorized everything on land. Menacing pterosaurs ruled the skies. Mosasaurs made the seas so very treacherous.
At some point in history — about 280 million years ago — all of those monsters shared a common ancestor with us humans. It’s just that their branch of the tree underwent an explosion of evolution first. The human race as we know it today would not have evolved had the era of the giant reptiles already come and gone. In a sense, they made it possible for us to be here.
Wattles explains that in their day, the dinosaurs were “perfect in their kind.” They were representative that the animal kingdom had evolved. Yet, they were also a sign that evolution was far from done.
The robber-baron industrialists of the Gilded Age were still alive when Wattles wrote in 1910 — men like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie. The massive trusts they built created a world of oppression and income equality.
Yet, Wattles didn’t see things staying that way forever. He believed that one day, any man or woman would be able to find their own path to riches and freedom. A little more than 100 years later, here we are in the Information Age, and we can see how true that is.
Yet, Wattles would tell us, industrialists like Morgan were “perfect in their kind” the same way the dinosaurs were. If not for the industrial age their businesses ushered in, we would not be living in the age of self-driving cars, iPhones, and gigabit Internet speeds. The industrialists were a necessary step in human evolution, and yet a reminder that we are not done.
One day, Wattles writes, the human race will live in harmony. We will no longer be in conflict. Obviously, we’re not there yet.
Don’t think of the disagreeable boss — or friend, or parent — as being “wrong.” Like the dinos and robber-barons, think of them as being perfect in their kind. In order to fully appreciate a world without conflict, we must experience its opposite. Difficult people bring us that experience. They too are a part of evolution, on a micro level.
So, what would Wallace Wattles say about a difficult boss?
Well, first of all, he wouldn’t start by addressing the issue of the boss directly.
He’d tell you to visualize exactly what it is you want out of life. Wattles would tell you to imagine that you already have what you desire. Think of all the ways that would allow you to walk through life differently, experience life more fully.
Imagine yourself having those experiences. Feel them with all five senses, happening to you right now. In fact, go ahead and be grateful for them. Feel the gratitude as much as you do for the place you currently live, the people in your life, the air you breathe.
Have total faith that what you desire is already on its way to you. Don’t worry about how it will get there — the how is in the universe’s hands, not yours.
As for your difficult boss, Wattles wouldn’t tell you to quit your job. Not just yet. He’d tell you just the opposite — throw the full vigor of your total Self into your work as you have never done before. When you do that, you’re telling the universe you will throw that same vigorous effort into whatever opportunity it sends your way.
When you send that message out to the universe, it has to send opportunities your way. It can’t possibly do anything else. Universal laws have to be followed.
Sooner or later, you will begin to get intuitions — “do this” or “do that.” They won’t necessarily be direct paths away from your boss. However, when you get a message from that deeper part of yourself to take action, heed it. Do not question it, but take action, because your action will be inspired.
Before you receive those messages, as you act on them, and after you start to obtain the things you desire, express gratitude for your difficult boss. They were perfect in their kind. Their idiosyncracies paved the way for you to grow into someone better — and, in doing so, pave the way for the entire human race to evolve.
Get Wattles’ books
Since Wallace Wattles’ books were written in 1910, they’re now in the public domain. You can read them online for free:
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