Don’t Be a Victim Charlie Brown

Image

*Three things that you should know before you proceed:  First, this isn’t for those of you with Charlie Brown collectibles.  Believe me, you just won’t get it and you may feel a little judged.  Secondly, I consider Charlie Brown to be a poor role model but a great confirmation of valuable life lessons! Third, I still get the same goofy grin on my face when ABC announces the holiday line up and I will continue to watch (so should you).   If you’re still interested, come with me:

CHARLIE BROWN IS A PROBLEM!

It feels good to get that off my chest.  After burying this blog piece deep in the draft bin for months I now feel removed enough from sappy holiday emotions to say what’s on my mind.

So here we go, four lessons that are validated through the life of Charlie Brown:

1) Mediocrity is a choice and a direct connection to self esteem.  This is demonstrated multiple times during It’s The Great Pumpkin…no less than when Charlie Brown chooses to attend Violet’s Halloween party after being told he was accidentally invited (Lucy informs him that he was on the “don’t invite” list).  Hs lack of self esteem ironically doesn’t allow him to protect himself from the poor treatment issued by others but instead leads him to walk right into their path, seeking acceptance from people who may not even deserve his friendship.  He’s willing to accept the bare minimum from other people.  Even worse, he shows his willingness to just get by in his costume selection; selecting the easiest costume, screwing it up and refusing to start from scratch. Now you’re the “ghost” with 18 eyeholes.  Oh, if only Mr. Schulz had written in an invisibility option, it would have been a better choice.

2) When people show you who they are, believe them!  In the comic strip and during various specials Lucy clearly demonstrates that her entire mission in life is to be Ol’ Chuck’s foil.  His weakness is the exact opposite of the rule; he believes that when Lucy treats him poorly that this is the exception to whom she really is.  He can’t reconcile that she loves to see him down!  Whether it’s after his fake out during the placekick or when she’s charging him 5 cents to degrade him at her booth (he pays a person who clearly doesn’t like him to give him advice), his failure is her success! In the off chance that Lucy decides to throw Charlie a bone and show him a little kindness she makes sure that she reminds him of all of his faults only seconds later.  Even when people lie their consistent actions tell the truth about who they are—believe them!

3) You are the company you keep.   I don’t have a particular gripe against Linus.  Let’s face it, he’s dealing with issues that are deep, considering that he has absentee parents and is left to be ignored by his abusive sister with his only comfort being his blanket and his spineless best friend.  Put all of that aside and focus on the greater problem, yep, you guessed it, Charlie Brown!  He is clearly older than Linus with their only commonality being that they have no show of force.  Why does he choose to spend all of his valuable free time with Linus?  We could say it’s his chance to assert himself and be the leader or we could refer back to Lesson #1.  Charlie has access to a creative and assertive ally in his dog Snoopy, however, man’s best friend must have heard rule #3 because he seeks his companionship with those more closely aligned with his perceived station or higher (he often is the most intelligent of the humans he emulates).

When individuals that are crafty and creative attempt to get closer to him–ahem Peppermint Patty–he is clearly disturbed by it.  C’mon a chick that could get people to call her “sir” in the 1950’s is most obviously a boss!  He could use a little of her chutzpah.  Schroeder is a creative genius but he doesn’t want the taint of association with Charlie. Would anyone have taken Mozart seriously if he schlepped around with a thumb sucking, blanket toting friend and a prematurely bald whiner?

4) You teach people how to treat you.  This is along the lines of rule #2. In the somewhat obscure You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown,  Lucy snatches the football out of Charlie’s path twice!  She asked him twice because she knew she could and that he would.  During the process of this humiliation, Peppermint Patty hits Chuck up for cash, inviting him to participate in a bike race with the winning prize being Pro Bowl tickets that “she has won”.  He ultimately wins the race and the prize which turns out to be 5 free haircuts (little known fact-his dad is a barber, obvious fact–he has no hair).  Bottom line, he is the easiest target because he is a willing target.

I could have written an article about Chuck’s eternal optimism, belief in the human race, and acceptance of others but those lessons have been opined before I’m sure.  As entertainment value and purposeful avoidance of Lesson #1 this was a much better approach for me.

To leave on a positive note,  when Charlie wins the bike race and is disappointed with his reward, Linus removes his thumb from his mouth for some interesting words of wisdom reminding him that, ‘winning against overwhelming odds is much more important than the reward at the end’.

Although as a saleswoman I might take issue with that statement too.

Get Your Hands Off My Intellectual Property

A good friend and respected colleague contributed to my professional library by providing me with a book that I’ve come to value called, Linchpin: Are you Indispensable by Seth Godin. The book, in a nutshell, discusses the decisions you make, your future, your potential and how you make yourself relevant. That’s a really brief, almost vague nutshell that doesn’t do it justice so GO BUY IT! At the end of the day the book is only as valuable as its impact on each reader and this one had significant impact for me.

One of the major takeaways while reading it was that my Intellectual Property  is the thing that makes me valuable everywhere that I go.  I have gained more career opportunities and professional experience based on my differences from other potential hires than by how closely I match the job description posted. What great employers come to realize as I go through a hiring process is that my mind is my greatest asset. Once I’m hired if they’re smart they take advantage of it. If they are insecure they attempt to cage me in via micro management and other useless tools of the fearful leader.

image

My well used, dog eared copy of a great book!

Creativity in thought and action has been a major component to my success over the years. While other sales reps relied on high-priced degrees to show their value, I entered the work world without a piece of paper validating that I could read a book and pass a test but competed and frequently surpassed those who were institutionally educated. I don’t say that to argue the value of a degree, I’ll spout my feelings about that in another post, but rather to show that the thing that has made me a “player” is something that can’t be duplicated easily or sometimes at all. By the time a competing salesperson has “pulled my card”, I’ve moved on to another trick or I have so many cards in play simultaneously that I don’t have to worry about being directly replicated.

My Intellectual Property is the thing that galvanizes me when I feel unappreciated or have effectively outgrown my position. It gives me the confidence to efficiently review my successes and determine my value so that I can present it well to others and open new doors. In a recent experience, my IP proved to be the thing that kept an employer from showing me the door when I gave two weeks notice (a rare occurrence in a book of business oriented sales world). Asking me to stay through the two weeks was less about their love for me and proof positive that I was indispensable because of what I knew and even more significant hard to replace.

Ultimately Intellectual Property, if focused on and developed, can offer you a level of assuredness in a world that offers very little job security and shows even less appreciation for the person that can follow directions, manipulate a computer, and tow the corporate line. It should give you the feeling that you are “KING/QUEEN of the world” because it sets you apart. My recommendation, push yourself to the most painful points of honesty and growth so that you can walk into any situation confident that you are truly an individual because of what you can offer. For a person whose IP is acutely developed they can put someone in your chair but you can never be replaced.