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See the gift in everyone

As I was going through the final audio tracks of Wayne Dyer’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, Change Your Thoughts: Change Your Life , I came across a section on resentment which made me start to do some thinking about people in my life who I felt had hurt me in some way or another. After a bit of reflection, I realized that each of these people gave me a gift to be treasured. It’s amazing, when you let go of resentment, you see that the people you resented the most have given you some of your greatest gifts.  I’ve shared some examples from my own life below.

My college Roommate: We were friends for three years. During our senior year we had a major falling out because he chose being favored by his newest friends over preserving our friendship when I was forced to make a decision between my duties as an officer for  student run organization and my duties as a friend.  Looking back, he gave me a wonderful gift, the ability to judge character.

The CEO of my first company: He was probably one of the most abusive leaders I’ve ever witnessed in an organization. Sales people were not paid commission checks, software developers were forced to cut their wedding vacations short, and holidays were not given to any employees.  Almost on a weekly basis he fired somebody on a whim.   The gift he gave me was  a lesson in how to not to lead an organization if I ever become CEO.

My Sales Manager: One sales manager I worked for was probably the second-worst boss I worked for. For years, I resented him because I felt that he had held me back in my career. He didn’t want to me to do anything beyond my job description and was insistent that I be behind the desk at my office, rather than at sales meetings, learning from the account managers I supported.  He also had a reputation for being very political. However, he had the highest performing team in the entire company.  At his departure, he told the new Vice President that I was not meant to be in sales. What I realized is that he gave me many gifts.  He gave me the knowledge that you can shine by surrounding yourself with people better than you. He gave me the freedom to explore what I was really meant to do in life, which I realized was not sales. As much as I hated him for saying I wasn’t cut out for sales, I realized he had done me a favor.  Finally, he gave me the gift of learning how to chose a boss you’ll work well with.

Ex-Girlfriends: Even the relationships that don’t work out in the long run leave you with a wonderful gift. Despite two fairly dramatic long-term relationships, both of my ex girlfriends touched my life in a positive way. They made me realize what I do value, and taught me that changing too much to make another person happy basically turns you into somebody you’re not. In other words, they gave the gift of being happy with who I really am, not who they wanted me to be.

Classmates: I’ve had classmates in business school who didn’t really care for me. They criticized most of my efforts, and some stopped being my friend because our values didn’t align.  Together they gave me the gift of being independent of the good opinion of other people.

So, take a closer look at the people in your life you call your enemies, the people you resent, the people you hate. You’ll be surprised to find they’ve all given you a gift. You just have to chose to unwrap it and accept it.

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