It’s jury duty day, a busy cyber Monday, and I sit in a room amidst a unique blend of people. Corporate, entrepreneurs, housewives and retirees, most of whom are busy scouting the internet for the fantastic online deals.
For free parking, I hoofed up a hill which left me breathless in the cold morning air. Dozens of would be jurors waited in a long line outside the steps of the courthouse in the cold wind. It’s been many years since I entered through those very doors on the day my divorce was finalized.
Determined to not linger in the wind waiting for entrance, a noticed two busy looking men on the corner, glancing at the same line and then pointing to an adjacent building. I quickly went over to them and inquired if perhaps there was another way to the courthouse that they knew of. “Why yes there is” one said. “If you come with us we are headed in that general direction. It’s a convoluted route, but at least you will be inside.”
I promptly thanked them, introducing myself along the walk. One man was a lawyer and the other was introduced as “the victim”. I blinked and thought to myself, how sad. If he thinks himself a victim, he will never truly “win” despite any courtroom victory. “It’s the last day of our 3 week trial” the nameless victim said. I asked his lawyer what firm he worked for. “Myself ” he replied, “if it’s a large case, I pull in a small local firm for assistance”. Interesting I replied, waiting for him to at least give himself a plug. He never did.
The labyrinth of the courthouse would have indeed proved daunting for me, and I graciously thanked them both for showing me the way to the jury selection area. They continued on, and I wished them both good luck.
As I watched them saunter down the hallway, it struck me that neither one of these men took the care or opportunity to properly address themselves. Not knowing who I may or may not be in the world. An attorney with no prepared elevator pitch, almost embarrassed to be speaking about who he was. As if the lack of firm association somehow diminished his intelligence, commitment or success. It was written all over his demeanor.
His client, a professional looking middle aged male, never even saying his first name upon introduction. Allowing himself to be labeled “the victim”, and so it remained for our 10 minute walk. I felt badly for both people.
In this world, we are defined in the small moments that comprise the whole. We have opportunity at every turn to either edify or diminish ourselves by the very words that flow from our mouths. Like a hologram, we can project ourselves and our energy any way we choose. Strangers represent the perfect practice turf, as likely we may never see them again.
Be mindful as you meet, greet and partake of someone else’s space, even just for a minute. Like a muscle, inner confidence has memory. What you project in the world will develop you from the inside out.
My two walking partners could have chosen to identify with anything other than defeated adjectives. It may have been a long trial, a rough night, or just where their heads were at. I understand more than I care to admit. However, if we don’t advocate for ourselves, how can anyone else do it for us?
My takeaway? Seek an alternate route when everyone else is standing around waiting, because there usually is one. Regardless of the circumstances. Should you meet someone along the way, remember who you are when you greet them and smile with your brightest and most genuine one. Your authentic self is not designed to be diminished.
You don’t need to be inside a courtroom to Rise.