Evaluating What’s Worth Fighting For
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 21, 2014
When LeBron James decided a couple of weeks ago that he was going to return back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I had a very strange reaction to it. I was confused; that’s it. I wasn’t confused because he was going to a bad team. I wasn’t even confused that he was going back to his hometown.
I was confused because he was going back to work for someone who openly castigated him in a letter when he made his initial decision 4 years ago to go to another team, a letter that, until a month before LeBron decided he was going back, still sat out there on the team’s website.
I thought that was one of the worst things I’d ever seen, a major overreaction to what was a business decision by a spoiled rich guy, and something I felt was unforgivable. I thought James did the right thing years ago, the letter proved to me that it was the right thing, and yet my mind couldn’t get around this fact that he’d gone back, even though the guy did apologize… after James said he was going back.
I don’t do forgiveness well. I own up to that, and not being religious, I feel no faith based breaking of morality in being that way. I wish I was better at it, but I’m not. I tend to give people a lot of chances, and for the most part I’m pretty easy going. But there are wrongs that I won’t forgive, and even if I find a way to get beyond it I’ll never forget; how come getting older and starting to forget things doesn’t impact older memories?
Three years ago I ended up having to sue someone because he hadn’t paid me for work I did. Part of it was my fault for not making sure he signed my contract before I did the work. Most of it was his fault for not treating me like a professional. I’m good at what I do, and I had completed all the work he’d asked for.
During the lawsuit, which went two days 3 months apart, he made a statement that he would never recommend me to any of his other clients. I found that an interesting statement because it presumed I would ever work with him again. He was upset I sued him; I was upset that he hadn’t paid me for my work.
In truth, the problem was that he didn’t have an understanding of the work I did. I had written him a report that he didn’t understand, and he spent his time trying to convince the judge that I had written something that was jibberish. I was able to come back with a copy of my book, a copy of a book by a famous person with my name in it as one of the proofreaders, my name in a national emergency room billing training manual as an editor, copies of numerous articles I’d written for national magazines, and other writings I’d had that are all over the internet. Yes, I was loaded for bear. When the judge asked me what I wanted I said “I want to be paid” and I was paid, though it took 2 installments over the course of two weeks; not what was agreed upon in front of the judge but I went with it.
Here’s the thing. What was still to come was presenting the information to his client, even though that wasn’t my client. It was a phone meeting, since I decided I didn’t want to drive 4 hours to deliver the report, not knowing how he’d described my behavior to any of the people there. Over the course of 90 minutes the director there and myself had a great conversation about all my findings and recommendations. My client listened in, posed a question here and there, but for the most part didn’t get involved. Why? Because I presented the same report I’d originally written, the one he didn’t understand and said was jibberish, to someone who fully understood everything I was saying, knowing it wasn’t jibberish.
That was pleasant and confirmed my belief that this wasn’t a guy I’d ever work with again. Or would I? If his client ended up duly impressed and he had a change of heart, and came back to me with a proposal and, this time, went along with my contract terms, it might be possible that I’d have worked with him again.
What do these two tales teach us? It takes some time to evaluate what’s important enough to fight for and then to determine what steps to take. At the time I sued, the amount of money was significant, even though I make more money than that most of the time. I’d given him a discount based on the promise of doing 4 projects for him, then he lost my trust.
However, in both my case and LeBron’s case, in the end we both won. I got my money, LeBron won his championships, and neither of us had to regret anything we did. Life doesn’t always work out that way though. Many people worry about burning bridges and yes, that’s something to think about whenever you decide to disassociate yourself with someone.
However, sometimes you have to be ready to stand up for yourself, no matter the consequences, when you know you’re right. Not that right always wins, but right is always right. Knowing what to do with it and what you can live with can determine your success later in life, as well as your peace of mine.
I’m peaceful enough…