This is a story written by one of Meta’s friends. You may recognise the theme! And thank you, Spence!
The Be Perfect driver was a successful driver. Everything he did was as close to perfect as he could make it. Anything that he was asked to achieve, he strived for 100%, even 101%!
A very commendable attitude everyone said.
From very early in the morning until late into the evening, the Be Perfect driver committed his time to his work and to making sure that everyone was “happy” with that work. (He is even writing this at 9.25pm in his lounge!) He knew his job well and his experience was well respected with many of his colleagues and peers.
He always took the time to support others, even when his own workload was heavy – never one to let anyone down. From time to time, he found himself on very tight deadlines which meant that occasionally, his usually high standards slipped a little.
This had an unusual effect on the Be Perfect driver – How could he have let his most precious asset slip?
Was this the point where people found out that he couldn’t do what he said he could?
Even though he said he could, could he do the job?
Now the Be Perfect driver was slipping into confusion, all the perfection was disappearing from his world and being replaced with….Doubt.
This caused the Be Perfect driver to feel less than perfect, in fact he felt as though every part of what he had worked so hard to achieve was being unravelled. People would think that he wasn’t quite as good as they first thought. They would not put so much trust in him in the future. He would slowly but surely be squeezed out.
The Be Perfect driver pulled over into a lay-by to try to figure out how he would fit all the things he had to do into the ever shrinking time line he had AND do them all perfectly.
As he pulled in, he vaguely noticed another similar looking van parked up. Leaning up against the van holding a cup of tea, was a man who looked uncannily like himself only….. better. He wasn’t sure what it was that was better about this other man, only that he looked, well, good!
Now being a man who liked everyone else to be happy, the Be Perfect driver decided to find his best smile and go over and say hello to the other driver.
“Hello” He said in his best voice and with his best smile. “I’m the Be Perfect driver, you look familiar, have we met before”?
The other driver smiled a relaxed and contented smile. “I’m the Be Happy driver” He said.
“We’ve met quite a few times, but mostly just short glimpses these days”
The Be Perfect driver was a little confused at the Be Happy driver’s response. What could he mean, just short glimpses?
“I used to stop here for a cup of tea quite often” Said the Be Perfect driver. “These days though, I just have so many things to do, I barely have time”
“I know” Said the Be Happy driver. “All that training to deliver, then more to design and write AND making sure that it is all up to standard – can’t afford to let the side down. Then there’s the family, and the work to do on the house, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger”.
“But how do you…..” The Be Perfect driver was just about to ask how on earth the Be Happy driver knew all these things about him when the Be Happy driver continued..
“I was just like you, up at the crack of dawn and back at stupid o’clock, missing the kids go to bed and then collapsing in the chair when I got home. One day it all got on top of me and I didn’t know what to do first. I didn’t talk to my wife because it was just boring work stuff and she was busy trying to project manage everything else that was going on.
“Then one day, I went to see a good friend of mine. We weren’t supposed to be talking about my troubles but it just ended up coming out in conversation. As I was talking, I heard myself saying something to my son a few days earlier and it just hit me that I was unhappy. I was trying SO hard to pull everything together and keep everyone happy but all I was achieving was more stress and behaving in a way that was actually making people UN-HAPPY”.
“My friend asked me a fairly simple question. She said that trying for the best result was a good trait but if I could change being perfect to something else, what would I choose?”
I thought for a minute and decided that rather than having a “Be Perfect” driver, I would rather have a “Be Happy” driver”.
“I started to think about all the things that I had to do, all the people I needed to please and all the stress I was piling on myself and my family. Then I asked myself how I could achieve all of these things from a Happy perspective”.
“As I thought about each task, I thought about how I could fit in a little treat to make me feel happy as I worked. I also thought about a bigger treat at the end of each week, just to celebrate what I had achieved, even if I hadn’t managed to do everything. At the beginning I was worried that doing this would mean that my own standards would dip, but guess what – they actually went up! Because I was enjoying what I was doing and letting myself have a little treat every now and then, I was really pleased with the results – And so were other people!”
“It seems that a little time spent making sure YOU are happy has the most wonderful effect on other people. Somehow, I don’t find them asking for so much of my time these days – maybe because what I do for them now is closer to being right the first time. I don’t feel quite as rushed as I used to – maybe because I am enjoying the work” (and looking forward to the treat!)
I enjoyed lying on the floor the other night with both of my daughters sitting on my back while I read them a story – Something I hadn’t done for a while without speed reading and bundling them off to bed so that I could carry on with work”!
The Be Perfect driver was stunned, it was as if someone had just described his life!
He looked at the Be Happy driver for a long time. The more he looked, the more he wanted to look and feel like him.
“Do you think I could do the same as you”? Said the Be Perfect driver.
“Absolutely”. Said the Be Happy driver. “Do you know what makes you happy”?
The Be Perfect driver thought.
“ My kids when they laugh, going to football on Saturday and watching my son, nice cup of tea with milk and two sugars, watching a romantic film with my wife, watching……”
“Okay, okay” Said the Be Happy driver. “Use all of those things and more as your treats. When you don’t have much time, use the short treats, when you have more time, use the longer ones. Enjoy it when you use them”.
The Be Perfect driver looked at his watch.
“Time I was off on the road again”. He said to the Be Happy driver. “Thanks for the chat though and I’m definitely going to use my treats and think more about what makes me happy”.
“One more thing before you go”. Said the Be Happy driver. He drew a big imaginary hoop in the air. Then he grabbed it and passed it to the Be Perfect driver.
“What is it”?
“Inside that hoop are all the things that make you feel good. Sometimes, when you’re struggling to find “Happy”, throw the hoop on the floor and step in it. Let yourself feel all those good things surround you and fill you up. Once you have topped up with “Happy”, pop the hoop in your pocket and carry on”.
“Thanks”. Said the Be Perfect driver looking a little confused.
Are you coming this way next week”? Asked the Be Happy driver.
“Yes, on Tuesday” Said the Be Perfect driver.
“Stop off for a treat and we’ll talk again. It’s been nice”.
“I will”, said the Be Perfect driver as he turned and walked back to his van, all the time feeling the hoop in his pocket filling up with happiness.