Since 94% of the population suffers from at least a mild form of Adultitis, odds are that anyone with a job has to work with someone infected with this vile disease. Maybe it’s a co-worker, or a client, or – gulp! – the boss. Sometimes the people I chat with after my speaking programs will confess to being married to someone with a full-blown case of Adultitis.
So the question, of course, is how do I fix someone who has it?
Unfortunately, the truth is…you don’t.
I am a professional speaker. Most speakers I know started their careers with the hope of making a difference and changing lives. I certainly did. If you do it long enough, you’ll likely come across the uplifting statistic that informs you that your audience will probably forget almost everything you said the minute they walk out the door. Eventually, you will realize that you do not have any ability whatsoever of changing someone’s life. Entertain, sure. Inspire, maybe. But change? That’s up to them, not you. (Newsflash: this little rule also applies to any husbands, wives, parents, and teachers who may be reading.)
It’s hard to not feel like you’re a professional exerciser of futility.
The thing is, the more quickly you accept this reality, the better speaker you become.
When you are not worried about the guy in the front row crossing his arms, or the lady who ducked out the back, or whether or not you will get a standing ovation, the more you will be able to focus on being your authentic, true self and allow your message to land where it will.
And THEN you might make some sort of difference for someone.
You may not make a living from being on stage, but the principle is the same. When dealing with people who have Adultitis, there is only so much you can do. This is it:
1) Do your best to be a good example. Take yourself lightly. Live your life cheerfully, with humor and joyful anticipation. In the best-case scenario, these people will see and be inspired by your approach to life and a little will rub off. Maybe they’ll even ask for your secret and then you can help them on the road to recovery.
2) If your example alone doesn’t make a dent, you should incorporate their office supplies or car keys into jell-o molds. (Just kidding.) (Not really.) Maybe you could try sending them flowers or a box of cookies. Maybe they just need someone to notice them and be kind to them.
3) If you’re still running into a brick wall of Adultitis, your only other option is to ignore them and do your best to limit your exposure to them. You don’t have to be mean about it; you just have to be intentional. Depending on your relationship, you might consider deleting them from your life. Harsh I know, but life is too short to have the joy sucked out of you by someone with a full-blown case of Adultitis.
“Woah, buddy,” you may be thinking. “That’s a little extreme. And it’s not exactly gonna work. This is my spouse you’re talking about,” or “I can’t exactly fire my idiot co-worker.” If extracting yourself from the situation is not an option, you should make it a priority to surround yourself with people who are relatively Adultitis-free. These relationships will help bolster your energy levels and serve as a forcefield from the Adultitis-ridden zombies in your life. (By the way, if you’re looking to connect with some other like-minded people who are the bee’s knees, join us for our next episode of Escape Adulthood LIVE Wednesday night!)
Is it an ideal solution? No, but it’s reality.
You are only the ringmaster of your circus and your monkeys. Focus on the things you can control: your attitude, your actions, and the people you choose to spend most of your time with. Let go of the things you can’t.
Simple, although certainly not easy.
Striving for an Adultitis-free life will not always yield the results you’d like. You may not be able to make someone change, but it’s always possible to make a difference.
Don’t be surprised if the difference is in you.