For ten years I coached cheerleading. I always joke around that I have one daughter but I have over three hundred kids. I have been lucky as a coach, always blessed with a wonderful group of girls. Most of my kids are in college or graduated. Many are now married and have children of their own. I understood in order to be an effective coach I needed to establish a bond with each one of my kids. They needed to trust me, to understand I would never push them to do something they were not ready for or not capable of performing. My kids knew when I said you can do it, they were ready. I had faith in them. I was telling them the truth! I knew they could! Most importantly my cheerleaders understood I loved them, no matter the time, the place, how many years may go by, I would/will always be there for them. I am in essence to some of my kids their second mom.
Tonight I spent an hour on the phone with one of my girls. (We will call her Leslie for the purposes of the blog) Like she had done many times before in high school, she was asking for my advice. She was trying to decide what to do. She had met a guy in college, he seemed super sweet, very gorgeous, extremely funny. They shared two classes together, they often talked to each other after class. She ran into him all the time in the dining hall, even at a few parties. Each time he was extremely nice to her. Yesterday when he asked her out she was excited. Now she was worried. One of her good friends told Leslie she had heard the guy was a jerk, treated women horribly and was bad news. She thought Leslie should find an excuse back out of the date with him, save herself from getting attached to him. Another friend also confirmed she had heard the same thing, he was a jerk. He went out with a bunch of women and cheated on all of them. So I asked Leslie, who said he was a jerk, who was the source of all the information? Her answer they only said they heard. She had no clue who made the original statement.
I thought for a moment. Then I asked Leslie, “What would you think if I told you someone thought I was not honest? They believe I lied about someone very dear to me?”
Her immediate response, “I would laugh and say they obviously don’t know you. They have never heard your you are only as good as your word lecture. You are my only coach who was ever honest enough to admit when you made a mistake. Tell us it was not our fall that cost us the competition. It was huge to us, when you stood before us and said it was your mistake that cost us first place, you would never let it happen again. Oh my God, you are probably the most honest person I know.”
I explained to Leslie, exactly, understand my point, you know me. The people who are doubting my honesty, never met me. They don't know me, my character. I learned my motives, my character were being questioned because of one statement, one person. They were called, asked a simple question instead of being honest and saying I am not really sure, they made a statement that they thought I lied, exaggerated about something that happened a long time ago. Then two people repeated it, then four etc. The more it was repeated the more it became the truth verses what was real. Now I have no clue how many people, who I do not know, are saying I lied. All these people are repeating what one person said instead of talking to me. When all they have to do is ask me what happened. After all I was the one there, the one in the conversations, not the person who said they didn't think it was true. The people making the assumptions about my honesty don't understand why this one person wouldn't know, why they were kept out of the loop. We had our reasons. Then I further explained recently I have learned apparently some people would rather believe something negative about me rather than get to know/ discover who I am, the core of my being. Leslie was extremely sweet she commented it was their loss. She loved me and so did all my girls.
I went on to tell Leslie, if a person is not involved in the situation, how can they ever really know the truth? I have learned never believe second hand knowledge. Anyone can say we think, we doubt, we believe but unless they were there, then they don’t truly know. In essence, gossip hurts, it can ruin a good person. I continued, I would like to believe people are not purposely lying, they believe what they say, that they are lying for some inane reason; jealousy, hurt feelings, jilted, heart broken, to protect an image? Who knows and who really cares? Only the people involved in a situation hold the truth. So she needed to talk to him tell him what she heard, listen to his response.
My guess to Leslie, the rumors she was hearing about him being a jerk and treating women badly were from an ex or someone he rejected. I asked Leslie what did her gut tell her? When she blocked out all her confusion, what did she feel? Had she ever seen him act like a jerk? Being a jerk is hard to hide! She answered he had always been sweet to her, very polite, she liked him. She was excited when he asked her out. After her friends started to say things, repeat the rumors, she didn’t know how she felt, what she should believe. My advice, she needed to get to know him, go out on a date. Talk honeslty. She owed it to him not listen to what people said but rather get to know him, find out for herself. Isn't that what she would want him to do if the roles were reversed? He had done nothing to earn her distrust. He had always been nice to her. By listening to the rumors she might miss out on an absolutely wonderful man. We talked for a while longer. Before Leslie hung up I asked her a series of questions, “If you start to doubt your decision ask yourself these questions. What if you find out later your friends were wrong? They were lied to. It might be too late to correct your mistake! Then what?”
Her phone call made me wonder, question; why is it people believe what they hear to be the truth instead of discovering the truth themselves?