Isn’t it interesting how profound a few words can be?
In fact, I’ve always been intrigued at the sentiments, phrases, words, lyrics, or sentences that make it through my maze (see: mess) of a brain and leave an impact.
Now, I realize that what does cut through the noise is a completely personal phenomena. A phenomena often related to circumstances, experiences, desires, or hell even a particular time of year/month/or day. But regardless of when, or how, a simple set of words finds me, they seem to stick best when they are simple. Which brings me to some of the stickiest words I’ve acquired yet:
“Don’t let the door slam”
5 simple words with the power of super glue.
Why those five words are so particularly sticky? I’ll admit, at first, I wasn’t quite sure. But then, insert common theme in my life, I wrestled with them. And what started as 5 simple words became a powerful metaphor for many things in my life.
Let me take you back to where the power of those 5 words came from:
A couple of years ago, I got a new job at a company I love. I was excited to have received a promotion that was reflective of my budding skill set and I believed that this new title would surely convey to my peers that I was going places, not to mention it came with a nice pay raise. And wait, there was more. As a proverbial cherry on top, my new desk would be in the hallmark building of the city in which I work. I was on top of the world, standing side-by-side with pride.
So on what was my first day, I dressed in all black, tied my peat coat belt in a perfect bow, popped my collar, put on my sunglasses, and walked to work as if I was gracing the Madison Avenue with my presence.
I know, I know, gag. But if we’re honest, we all have similar moments of pride. And it’s only when we put pen to paper and describe the level of self-centeredness we’re all capable of does it become nauseatingly painful. But back to the story.
So there I was, walking to work as if I was a gift to the streets of my city and probably, definitely, the world. I click-clacked those heels across a few more crosswalks and then entered the door to my new, big, bright, and shiny office building. And slam.
An incredibly loud and jarring slam.
A heard-it-through-my-headphones-with-the-volume-on-10 slam.
A humbling slam.
And that was the start of the stickiest five words I have yet to encounter.
In fact, from that day on, I have made myself use that door every time I enter the office in the morning. Not the revolving doors, which are also an option, but instead, I intentionally use the door I first used. The one desperately in need of a delayed closing mechanism, to remind me that it isn’t all about me. In fact, there are days when I am running late, another specialty of mine, when I tell myself out loud “you’re never in too much of a hurry to let the door slam.” And I believe it. It’s not that I don’t respect other people’s time, that isn’t it at all. Instead, I respect the power of what to others may seem small. And on the surface it may be, after all it is just a door. But extrapolate it.
Letting the door slam signals to the kind janitor vacuuming the floor that you don’t care how many leaves blow in behind you because your job is more important than theirs. It tells your colleagues, entering through the revolving door, that you’re in a hurry so they shouldn’t dare get on the escalator before you or try to make small talk in the elevator. And finally, and perhaps most-dangerously, it sends a message to yourself that you’re entirely more important than you really are.
Seems dramatic, but I’ve had some time to think about this. Almost 3 years to be exact. 3 years of using the same heavy door. 3 years of being humbled. And what I’ve realized, is that it isn’t just about that particular physical/tangible door anymore. It’s about emotional, mental, and intangible doors too. I’ve learned that regardless of the type of door, the message is the same.
So now, if a tangible door or otherwise needs closed, I do my very best close it gently. Genuinely trying to give people, places, things, memories, and myself the respect they deserve. And I would challenge you to do the same. Even, and especially, if the door you need to close is painful. Because if I’ve learned anything in 29 years, or more specifically in the last three years, it’s that closing a door gently will leave you with more peace than letting it slam ever will.