Recently I was on the phone with a courier service. When I gave my credit card, which has my husband’s name on it, the dispatcher said, “Paul DesRosiers?! Did he used to be a bike messenger here?” I said, “Yes he did. You remember him?” He said, “Yes, gosh that was twenty years ago. He was a rockstar. One of our best ever.”
Contrast this with another job that Paul got fired from, on his first day.
You’ll see why in some roles you’ll be a hero and in others, maybe not a villain, but definitely a troublemaker. When you understand what’s at play in making you a hero or a troublemaker, you’ll be able to guide yourself to more success, fulfillment, and belonging.
Even though Paul isn’t working as a bike messenger anymore, he still uses the Native Geniuses that made him a rockstar — at work and beyond.
Here’s what I mean. This is a recent example from his personal life. We moved into a house about a mile from our old one. Paul decided to borrow my dad’s big SUV to move a few things over to the new house before the movers came. He wanted to get fragile things over there like artwork and lamps because it would be faster and more efficient than packing them.
After all the fragile stuff was over there, he expanded the scope, and decided to get everything to the new house, except the boxes and stuff that required two or more people to carry. For five nights after work, he would fill up four or five SUV loads and move stuff over there. I kept saying, “Remember we are going to have movers.” He said, “I know but if I get all this stuff over there, moving day will go so fast.” We both laughed and I said, “Awesome Honey, you’re a machine.”
Paul was such a rockstar at bike messengering, because he loves doing things as fast as possible, and arranging things in order, in fact, physical order to do things efficiently. He makes a game out of it for himself — whether it’s how fast he can clean out the garage or build a new ad campaign. He looooooves crystal clear progress and checking things off his list. He thinks in tasks and pieces and is constantly arranging them in a sequence that will be speedy. He can’t not do it. He’s also fit and a fast bike rider.
Now let’s go back to the job Paul was fired from on the first day. He was twenty-two. He had just moved to Colorado from Michigan and was figuring out what he was going to do with the rest of his life. This was before he tried his hand at bike messengering. He was hired to be a host at a restaurant. His job was to greet people and seat them. No one really trained him, and his first day was a Saturday brunch shift after a big college football game. The restaurant capacity was about 110 and about 200 people showed up all at once.
Paul thought, “Oh I got this down.” The restaurant went from basically empty to every table filled in no time. He remembers thinking, “Man I’m really good at this, they’re probably going to give me a raise.” If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant business, you can probably guess what happened. The kitchen and wait staff were slammed. The kitchen was delayed for an hour and a half. The manager came over to Paul and said, “What did you do?” And Paul said, “My job,” with a proud face. The manager fired him the next day.
Obviously, Paul wasn’t thinking of the supply chain and staggering the flow. That didn’t occur to him because the engine of his intelligence — his Native Genius — thinks in these terms: as fast and efficiently as possible. He has to work hard to NOT do that, because it’s non-Native to him.
When it comes to Paul being a hero or troublemaker, it depends on what the environment needs from him.
Sometimes we’re troublemakers because of issues around emotional intelligence, and that’s a topic for another day. But often, we’re SEEN as troublemakers, because there’s a mismatch between how our engine of intelligence works, and what our job, or parts of our job, requires. This feels terrible for everyone — like we’re banging our heads against the wall. It makes us feel broken, when there’s simply a mismatch.
Big pivots in our work can be daunting, given the responsibilities of adult life, but you can make small changes to morph yourself in the direction of what’s Native for you. A ship that makes a small change in its course today will end up in a totally different location in a hundred miles. When you shift your course to what comes naturally, streamers and confetti await. It’ll make the difference of whether you’re remembered as a rockstar twenty years later or fired on day one.
You really are a hero. Morph yourself to the situations where others will see that too.