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May 5, 2017

What My Mom Used To Say

By: Monica C. Smith – Chief Executive Officer, Founder – Marketsmith Inc., parent company of i.Predictus

My Mom was an unusual person.  She was more than well liked, she was adored – and by a few, feared. She was known for her great lines and the ability to sum up a room or a situation in a blink of an eye.  She had one line in particular that continues to pop-up in my head over the last few weeks: “Act 1, Scene 2.” I never really knew what that meant until recently. Her point was that there is always another day and/or there is more to be revealed- stay tuned.

When she used “Act 1, Scene 2” it was always more ominous. I look back at when she would use that expression and it was always in reference to a person who usually created disruption in others’ lives. Maybe you’ve heard the expression “wait for the other shoe to drop?”  We all have people in our lives that cause drama, that are short on “think about the impact of their actions,” and long on “how life is unfair to them.” Usually these are terminally unhappy people.

I have a belief that terminally unhappy, disruptive and dramatic people are usually erratic because somehow they were never told it is ok to be the person they want to be. They followed a less fulfilling journey for any number of reasons, and never had the chance to be the truest versions of themselves. I love to speak and write about my life and perspective on business, raising a family and being an entrepreneur. Like any writer who puts their work out there, I get feedback. The feedback is not always good.  As a matter of fact, I have detractors who feel I overshare. They ask, “Why do you put yourself out there?” And I often reply, “my mother didn’t love me enough!” But the truth is she loved me deeply, as did my father, and through that love, I learned how to be the truest version of myself.

In some ways, I am a disruptor. Not for the bad, but because I follow my heart, my head, and my soul. For me, I usually hear “of course you did,” “do you ever sleep,” or “I am inspired by you.” These outside observations drive me to continue my path of spreading good and living to be the truest version of myself.

When someone says, “Act 1, Scene 2” today in my family or business life, I have learned to duck, strap myself in, or be ready to watch something happen that is not going to be easy to watch. Often, it is a person that is making choices that are detrimental to themselves or others, typically acts of shortsightedness, mainly from desperation, poor decision- making abilities, or dramatic choices that are the ongoing subject of family challenges or work dysfunction. I find it is usually that the person does not really know how to be the best version of themselves, living in an authentic and meaningful way.  They drive to have moments rather to have truth or comfort. They draw attention to themselves by thinking they are being cheated, by causing a scene, or poisoning the well.

I have had my business now close to two decades and I have seen things that I wish I could scrape from my memory bank. To be quite honest, I myself wish I could turn back time and erase a few things I did or said.  I cannot correct those past decisions now, but I am reminded of an oath I signed on 9.4.01. To this day, it sits on my desk and reads:

“I commit myself to being a person of character. Truth, reliability, honesty, and confidentiality will be the pillars of my life. I will treat others as I expect to be treated.  I will live accordingly to the highest standards of integrity and all of life’s circumstances.”

Every morning I start my day and see that. I cannot tell you that I’ve lived that perfectly, but I can tell you that I try, really hard, every single day.

My heart breaks for those that can’t be the best versions of themselves, true to who they are and what gifts they were given to share. I have watched and seen when parents don’t allow their kids to be who they are, managers stifle their direct reports because of fear, and teachers teach from a limited place rather than an inspired one. I have seen humans squander opportunities more times than not, looking for the easiest road, rather than the truest. In my lifetime, I sat and watched marriages that should not have happened, the hiring of the wrong person because of their pedigree over someone else’s abilities, gender, or race, and have listened to some clients remind me that they are the client, when I saw myself as one of them – not as a vendor. We’ve all known these folks, we’ve all come across them- jeez maybe some of us are even married to one of them. I am sure each of us has wanted to shake some sense into one, scream at another, or even run from a person when they bring heartache into our lives more than once.

We should realize that everyone reads a book, sees a movie and watches a play not to be disappointed, surprised or saddened, but to be inspired, lifted and encouraged.  No, not every story ends well, and it is crazy to think it should. But the best advice I can give everyone I know, every age, every gender, from every culture is, “without fear be the best you, be the true you, and be the one-of-a-kind you.”  Yes, it is the harder road at first, but in time it is a guaranteed way to be the happiest, most successful you.”  That is true in every walk of life, both in business and in personal life – or in my case, the intertwined continuous life.  Do not be the one everyone expects will continuously have the next sad chapter or scene in life.  Be the one that grabs a hold, and show the world who you are.

So, I wish you all happy chapters and scenes ahead. That can only come if you remember to be the truest version of yourself – be the lead character in your book or play of life. And always remember to be grateful to anyone and everyone that told you to be the best version of yourself.