Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people,
whose breath comes cold out of their mouths.
~ Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkh aka Rumi
Ode 2865 translated by Coleman Barks
One of the major influences on my energy level is interaction with other people. Some people leave me feeling energized and creative. Others, especially in
clots large groups, leave me feeling drained and exhausted.
I’m been told I’m an introvert, finding inspiration and energy through reflection rather than from interaction with other people. Not unfriendly. Not shy, exactly. Just comfortable living inside my own head for extended periods of time. And yet, at several points in my life, I have been fortunate to be thrown together with people who expand my mind, increase my energy level, or inspire me with their ability, attitude, or accomplishments.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work with people I admire and respect, both clients and colleagues — people who “help my being” and inspire my best work. Sometimes, though….
Today, I spent some time talking to a prospective client, one of three who have recently contacted me about possible projects. All three projects sound interesting. All three people said they are willing to pay reasonable rates for my editing services. Today’s prospect would probably be the most lucrative, but I will probably turn it down.
Because a ten-minute phone conversation with the prospective client left me feeling slimy and sucked dry. He read several paragraphs from his draft manuscript over the phone—it’s a career management book for people changing fields at mid-life—and the advice he was giving was purely evil:
- lie (claim expertise you don’t have),
- cheat (sneak away for interviews when your boss isn’t in the office), and
- steal (use your current employer’s office supplies for your resume, cover letter, and work samples; use the company credit card for job hunting expenses).
I’m not sure I could work with him without risking contamination by his attitude (or letting my distaste for his lack of ethics show, and getting fired for that). I’ve tried before, telling myself it’s unprofessional to be a prude and I should just suck it up and cash the check. It has never worked out well, though. I can usually maintain the quality of my work, but my stress level rises and I turn surly. It’s not worth it.
I’ll call him back tomorrow, regretfully declining the project, and referring him to a colleague with excellent skills and a thicker skin and stronger stomach.
Then, I will continue looking for interesting projects for clients who will help my being, and for whom I can perform a similar service.