If you’ve never played in an event with referees, this may not be as visceral a situation to you as it is to those who have played in such competitions. Likewise, if you’ve never actually been a referee, and only a participant, it may do you some good to step into a referee’s shoes every once in a while… or just once should do the trick.

We’re going to use basketball as the competition just to make things easier for me, because I’m sure that’s all you readers care about… my well-being.

Basketball was my life growing up so I’m most familiar with it as a sport, and referees can have a lot of influence on the outcome of the game.

You see, a referee must make decisions and calls based on the split-second actions of 10 other humans running around within specified lines, throwing/dribbling a ball, and running into each other. And, as we all know, a basketball game to parents of a 3rd grade child who can barely lace up his own shoes, is life.

Millions of parents across the world are certain that their little Billy is going to get noticed in some obscure gym by some college… no… pro scout who will sign their little pumpkin to a multi-million dollar shoe deal right there on the spot if Billy can just dribble the length of the court without bouncing the ball off his foot. Think of how many free throws Billy could miss if the referee would just open his eyes and call a flagrant foul on that bully opponent who intentionally aimed his breath in the direction of Billy!

Nearly every call a referee makes during a basketball game is considered wrong by 50% of the people in the gym at that time. If a referee calls a foul, the player, coach, team, and fanatical parents of the person who committed the foul are fully convinced that the referee is a moron, should get his glasses checked, and somehow developed a life-long grudge against the kid and his parents for no apparent reason.

Billy could tackle another player like a linebacker meeting a running back at the line of scrimmage (sorry for mixing sports here) and still, the parents and coach would scream at the ref, accusing him of favoring the other team.

In fact, I once refereed a church ball game, which of all basketball settings you would think is the most tame. I mean, the game begins with the teams petitioning to Jesus to keep everyone safe and kind to one another, inside a building with religious pictures and words all over the place promoting love and acceptance, what could go wrong? This should be a nice, casual experience for everyone.

Nope.

I found myself having to separate full grown men, usher someone off the court because he was bleeding profusely, and receive some choice words directed my way full of several expletives I didn’t even know were legal to string together in that order.

I was just doing my best to maintain order but so many opinions and so much disagreement left me feeling like everyone in the gym wanted to fight me in the parking lot.  

Here’s the connection I’m trying to work through. It seems as though the major (and many minor) life decisions are no different.

Well, hopefully not the bloody, expletive-riddled church experience.

I mean the referee/game relationship.

Here’s the poorly formed, way-too-complex analogy I guess I’m trying to make:

Life is a game… and sure, you’re kind of player in the game… but you’re also kind of the referee… so this gets super confusing, but being a referee sucks… because half the people in the gym (your life) are convinced you’re making the wrong calls.

Phew… we worked our way through that one together.

A Life Changing Decision

This past week, I gave my employer my 2-week notice. It was a tough conversation to have with my boss, who I enjoyed working for and respect immensely. I don’t think she saw it coming and it wasn’t a good feeling knowing that some people were now going to have to take on some more work because of my departure.

I am learning that, to the employer, the timing of an employee voluntarily leaving (assuming this employee was decent at his or her job) is never convenient.

I was responsible for projects that needed to be wrapped up. Couldn’t I have waited until they were done?

Well, once those were done, I would be in the middle of another 4-5 projects… meaning I’d have to wait for those to be done while other projects were added on… lather, rinse, repeat.

The loop is infinite if you are responsible for areas in a growing company, so I am convinced that there is no “good time” to leave a company.

When you decide to turn in your 2-weeks, to one team, you have made the wrong call, betraying any loyalty or trust someone had in you. To some, you never cared for anyone to begin with and have secretly sabotaging the company since the day you got there. Some family, friends, and LinkedIn connections are quick to throw in their two cents about how you’re probably making the wrong decision and it’s too risky.

Important note: my boss took it amazingly well and had nothing but kind things to say and amazing encouragement. She is in the group below.

To the other team, the new place to which you will be taking your talents in hopes of wonderful times, you made the right call. The timing is perfect. There are projects with your name on them that seem to have been built just for you. Your previous work impressed the right people and they want your skill, talent, work ethic, humor, and viral blog following to join their team. This side has similar friends, family members, and LinkedIn connections now calling you brilliant and destined for greatness.

Same decision. Two very different perceptions.

I’m finding more and more that most decisions I make have a negative impact on one group of people who firmly believe that I am acting with intentions that range anywhere from dumb to murderous. These same decisions have a positive impact on another group of people who firmly believe I am acting with dignity, wisdom, and kindness.

How can it be both ways?
How do I know which group to listen to?

7 seconds of politics

An election is months away. If you vote for Donald Trump, half of the country thinks you are saving the world while another half thinks you are a racist, homophobic, sexist, moronic imbecile.

If you vote for Biden, half of the country thinks you are saving the world, while the other half thinks you are a racist, sexist, socialist-loving, soulless, moronic imbecile…

See what I mean?
So, good luck with your vote this year!

Moving off politics…

Even seemingly small decisions turn into your own children shrieking that they’re going to run away from home because you never really loved them.

“Seriously?! I just told you to brush your teeth!”

This fight wakes up your 2-year-old from her nap, interrupting your wife’s nap time, and now your entire house thinks dad is a jerk who is only good for… well… ruining nap times.

Wait… this isn’t a daily occurrence for you like it is for me? Hmm…

Look. Life is cray cray right now for everyone. Life is always crazy at any given moment (except when you’re reading these entertaining posts… amiright???). There are people in your life who are your biggest fans and will cheer you on no matter how absurd and crazy your actions are. They are the types that would wake up in the middle of the night to come pick you up out of a destroyed car you drove into a ditch after four too many drinks. These fans will then start ranting about how the car maker should’ve made the seats less comfortable so you could stay awake and that the road itself didn’t seem to be up to code.

“You’re awesome. It’s not your fault!”

Caitlin is really good at this with me.

Not picking me up out of a ditch.
Nor the driving into a ditch part.

Just to be clear, none of that previous paragraph actually happened. It was just a random example of how my mind comprehends loyalty.

Let’s try this again.

Caitlin is really good at listening to my decisions (that don’t involve nap time) and making me feel like I am brilliant and anyone who disagrees with me doesn’t have a working brain cell left in their skull (she goes a little over-the-top sometimes).

Some unqualified advice

I’m no psychiatrist. I’m not a spiritual leader, intellectual, or philosopher, so take this advice for what it’s worth.

Any decision worth making is going to piss some people off. Know that going in. Some people genuinely want you to succeed. Others feel like your success is getting in their way, or is somehow threatening to them. You can’t change that.

When you find yourself needing to make a decision, do what is right to you, even if it may tick some people off.  

Unless that decision is to bash my blog… then keep that to yourself…

“What is right though Erik?!”

Not a clue. Still trying to figure that one out.

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