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Jan15

A little respect goes a long way

Let’s talk about respect.

There’s songs about it (insert obligatory R-E-S-P-E-C-T link, actually maybe later) and people desire it.

Respect creates heroes, criminals, kings, queens, speakers, commanders, leaders, movers and shakers. Everyone always asks for it but fail to earn it. I personally didn’t pay much attention to it until recently. When I discovered that respect is everything.

Not to just to receive but to give.

A comment made by my boss that I had long forgotten came back to me in the form of enlightenment. He said, “Oh, I see Wilmar is still smiling over there. We’ll see if he’s still smiling after he’s been here long enough.”

I didn’t think of it at the time but after that comment sowed its seed and sprouted roots, I remembered thinking. I hope I don’t stop smiling. If I do, then I’ve lost all respect for my job and my employers.

 

Ding, ding, ding! What was that last line? Something about respect?

 

For thirty years I thought that respect was something that immature man-children demanded. “I’m eighteen, I’m a fully grown man,” they’d yell. Yet recent events have shown me that respect is actually a way of life and has nothing to do with how people perceive you but rather how you feel towards them and yourself. If I lose respect for those I work for and work with, my misery and anger skyrockets to blood boiling levels. This inevitably leads to outbursts, screaming matches, and sets me on the path to unemployment. I’ve never pushed the envelope that far but if I did during one of my tirades, I know exactly how I’d respond. I’d yell, “Good!” and wave my middle finger like a flag on a burning ship. Oh it would be glorious, so glorious. Well, at least until the bills needed to be paid.

 

Respect is a currency that is traded more often than money.

 

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

“Respect the animal or it will bite you.”

“Respect my daughter or I will hurt you.”

“Respect me and I will treat you right.”

“I respect you and will follow you to the ends of the earth.”

“I respect you therefore I love you.”

“Respect your work and treat it with care.”

 

At my old job, many moons ago. I had the utmost respect for my superiors. I was confident that they knew what they were doing and that I would be working with a fun team that I could help me establish a career. As the years went on, my respect chipped away like a statue caught in the middle of a sandstorm.

My work became a chore and my manager a flea I couldn’t squish. I’d be assigned trivial tasks (that my manager could do easily) and would fight for projects that would improve efficiency and workflow. However, when other departments pushed back, my manager would crumble and all the work would fall on the shoulders of me and my co-worker. Once I realized that my manager lacked a spine to fight back, my pillar of respect shattered. When squabbles of politics would come into my room, intentionally designed to provoke my co-workers into a heated discussion. I’d find myself wanting to shoot myself every Monday morning. Sometimes, I would get so angry and so despondent that I would just turn around and take a sick day that I didn’t have. The following day I would get an e-mail saying, “Wilmar. You’ve taken a lot of days off without notifying us. You also don’t have that many days left, so please come in to work on time.”

I’d delete the message and pretend that I never got it.

My frustration with my job had gotten so severe that I would refuse to do any extra work assigned to me. I’d do the bare minimum for my job (and do it well).

I know this makes me sound like a terrible employee but I know more than a few of you were in the same boat. Most people would say that you should have quit before it had gotten that bad but anyone who needs to pay bills knows it’s not that simple. I’m not a lazy employee by any stretch of the imagination. I will work hard and will stay late if I respect what I’m doing. Having a terrible manager and not being offered a raise for several years made it impossible for me to enjoy my job. I felt like my soul was withering away and that I had become wasted potential. So not only did I not respect my job and my employers, I lost respect for myself.

When a new opportunity closer to home finally arrived. I jumped ship, eager to start a new career.

What’s that saying about the grass is always greener?

I started at my new job and realized something was amiss. I had anxiety whenever I was around my new boss. I dreaded going to the office and I found myself questioning my employer’s decisions. Ironically, I came in having a high amount of respect for a boss that was like unlike any other in that he was a maverick. Didn’t care that I didn’t turn in my two weeks notice, just wanted me to start working right away (I did do the two weeks by the way). I liked his unpredictable style but something felt wrong. The office was lonely, the work was borderline amateur, and the staff (all of two people) didn’t respect him! When I saw that my boss would give one of his employees plenty of leeway and then tell me in whispers, “Don’t treat me like an idiot, like that guy does.” I knew this new job was a bad idea.

If the employees were calling my boss an idiot. How long would it have been before I started doing the same? I couldn’t let history repeat itself. I couldn’t be in an environment where the employees didn’t respect the boss. I saw shades of myself in that disgruntled employee. Ironically, I think he actually liked me as a fellow co-worker.

I was back in the unemployment line and this time there was no back up plan. No other job lined up. I wasn’t even doing freelance work. I finished my second book but that wasn’t going to be enough to pay the bills. It was scary and I often considered crawling back with my tail between my legs. Not to my old job because f— them but to the one that gave me anxiety. I often told my girlfriend, “Please don’t make me go back there. Just give me time to find a new place to work.”

It took a long time and I even grew desperate enough to consider working at a restaurant. Scary stuff… College education being wasted serving sandwiches.

Fast forward to now, I’m employed both full-time and freelance at two different companies. It’s at these places that I learned the meaning of respect and how it can influence whether you love your job. I finally experienced what it was like to be in an environment where an employer has your back. Where the employees respect their managers, their knowledge, and treat me like a human being. I’ve found myself wanting to learn from my managers, my peers, wanting to impress, wanting to work harder, longer. Their behavior towards me has earned my respect and loyalty. Instead of wanting to fight, I want to serve and do my best. I know now what it’s like to love your job.

This is the true value of respect. If you respect someone and respect your work, happiness will follow. My boss could be a jerk and tell me that my work is amateur and that I don’t know what I’m doing. However, if I’ve seen that their experience has led to some of the most successful business ventures of all time, then I’d be more than happy to take a verbal beating. There is a huge difference between taking a tongue lashing from an idiot and someone that you respect. You don’t tend to argue with the person you admire.

Respect is one of the reasons why I believe my relationship with my girlfriend has been doing so well after almost seven years. She respects me and my opinion just as much as I respect hers. When I have questions on an edit or idea, I go to her. When she needs help in dealing with a problem or answering a question, she comes to me. If I need space to just relax and play video games all day, she will give that to me and I will do the same for her.

Respect is everything but not everyone understands what that means. When I wrote my first book I did not respect the necessity to read the work of other authors. I didn’t respect how critical a single word could be to the context and visuals of a story. Now that I’m chiseling my story with a pick and hammer rather than a wrecking ball, I now understand what it means to respect your work.

To respect means to love and admire. Respect your work, respect your parents, respect your peers. If you have no respect then you have no love or happiness.

 

Think about your favorite thing or person in the whole world. Do you respect it? What would change if you didn’t?

I still can’t believe it took me this long to understand how important respect was. Maybe it’s something you start to grasp with age or maybe I was just too blind to truly understand it.

I hope by reading this post you start to think about who and what you respect.

If you need a bit of a push, ask yourself these questions:

“Do you respect your spouse enough to admit when you’re wrong?”

“Do you respect the opinion of your superiors and accept when your work isn’t good enough?”

“Do you respect when someone goes out of your way to do something for you?”

“Do you respect the work that you do and take pride in it?”

“Do you respect yourself enough to know when you deserve better?”

If you say no to any of the above. Ask yourself if you’re happy. I’ve found that happiness and respect go hand in hand. If you want to be happy then all you need to find is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sing it Aretha!

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna
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