06/03/2010 03:44 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Misinterpretation That Changed My Life

I was not one of the cool kids in high school. Were you?

I liked school. I had lots of friends but I never "transitioned" into the popular kid group. That was okay then, as I remember, but since it was important to me at that time to be part of everything and liked by everyone, I was affected adversely.

Why am I talking about this now? Well, last week was my high school reunion. While the other reunions were odd and fun, there was one major revelation from this one for me that I could have never, ever expected.


Near the end of the last evening of our events, I was hanging out with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Mel. I've known him since I was 11 and while I rarely see him -- and we live a couple of miles apart -- when we get together it's like we've never been apart. There is some kind of crazy impishness that comes out of me and we have a ton of fun together.

It was late and we had each made our rounds of connecting with old acquaintances and we got into a discussion about who in the room we didn't like. I know, not terribly spiritual nor attractive, but whatever. So I came up with two names, one was probably fairly common to many but when I said the second name, Mel was astonished.

I then shared with him an interaction I had had with this person when I was 12. This was something that I don't think I'd ever shared with anyone, ever, before telling Mel about it. When I was 12 the interaction was terribly embarrassing and as I see it now, was likely one of those pivotal moments where I misinterpreted this person's motives.

In fact, I think this misinterpretation impacted my entire school life. Isn't that wild? It impacted who I believed I was, who I thought I could be friends with, and who I attracted into my life based on my self-esteem. This was a formative event.

When I realized the impact -- I was amazed. I was literally in awe of how one decision we make about what something means when we're a kid can have such a domino effect.

The fact is, I see this often every day with my clients and, of course, just watching the news etc. Sometimes we take in information and imagine the worst of what it could mean to us. We imagine the worst. We imagine we're at fault. We imagine we're not good enough.

Damn! We all need to learn (and teach) how to not take other people's "stuff" on or at the very least ask for clarity and then make a decision that works in our favor.

Brian Tracy talks about being an Inverse Paranoid -- one imagines the Universe is conspiring to do us good rather than what we usually tend to think, which is that the world is out to get us -- that it's a "dog eat dog" world.

I don't want to live in that world and I'm glad I now have the tools to share to ensure that I don't live in that world anymore.

If you had to think back to one of those pivotal moments in your early life where things went the "wrong" way -- could you have misinterpreted it?

If so, go back in your mind and change it to a way that works for you rather than against you. I'll bet that one act will change the way you are today.