Recently I met with a group of my peers. One person I had spent a bunch of time with this last year on a project was dominating the conversation. He was so happy to have purchased a scope for his new gun. His animated gestures and huge smile was having the opposite effect with our peers. He didn’t notice the frowns or faraway stares. Each of these people were thinking he was boasting about his new scope.

What they missed was the year of turmoil this person had experienced. He had a death in the family. His children were in college out of state. He struggled with the responsibility of having them attend the funeral. He was financially tapped because college is crazy nuts expensive today. We all try to budget for emergencies and have a buffer to ride out unforeseen events in our lives.

The project we were working on consumed a ton of time and the payout was longer than expected. How do you budget for customers that do not honor paying in a timely manner? We have bills to pay, mouths to feed and the work is completed but the company ignored the payment terms. Both of us scrambled and double timed other consulting opportunities to get through the waiting cycle. Ironically this delayed everything we were working on and pushed a large lump sum of money into the new year.

The overdue payment led to delayed gratification on something he was really looking forward to getting to improve his shooting. He was genuinely happy because the scope arrived in time for him to improve his shooting skills. The personal goals he had setup to attain almost got disrupted or put off to an unforeseen future time.

The next time someone is sharing something with you, please understand that they may not be boasting but are genuinely happy from over coming a difficult period in their life. This happiness could have been part of anything they shared. Just because he was talking excitedly about an expensive scope does not mean it was all about the scope.