As a kid, I grew up in a very Brady neighborhood. Thinking back, it bore an uncanny resemblance to the back lot of Universal Studios—minus the big pond with the shark from Jaws. After school, the neighborhood kids would gather on one of the many cul-de-sacs to play until their mothers called or fathers whistled that it was time for dinner.
Once in a while, a couple of kids would get in a fight over Freeze Tag rules, or someone cheating in a game of Hide and Go Seek. The host of the party, the one whose lawn we were using as a playing field, would then declare to his newfound nemesis “You’re not my friend anymore. Get off my property.” There would be a little pushing and shoving, and ultimately the play date would end with everyone feeling uncomfortable. Such disagreements would often linger a few days, until someone needed another kid for a game of Red Rover. The feuding kids would end up on the same team, be forced to work out their differences, and go back to being friends again.
When adults play games, the ramifications of their actions are infinitely more serious—reputations and relationships can be ruined, careers can be damaged. Maybe these are the same kids from grade school now grown up who simply never learned how to properly express themselves, and so they continue to utter the words “You’re not my friend anymore, get off my property” or other much more harsh expletives. They drag others into their drama, try to gang up on the other person, and urge you to take sides.
They backstab, they name call, they gossip—trying anything to win, to prove their point, to hurt the opponent. Only what they are doing, in addition to making a mountain out of a mole hill, is embarrassing and ultimately hurting themselves.
Two pieces of advice came to me the other day when I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and I thought they were worth sharing with those adults who choose to act like children in their relationships and in their lives in general:
We all have to grow up at some point and take responsibility for our actions. If you want to be the big man on campus, if you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or if you want to be in a healthy, happy enduring relationship, you don’t push somebody to the ground whenever things don’t go your way.