When I think of “words of wisdom,” I think of old adages that have been passed down through time. Things your grandmother would say, for example. Tidbits of advice that, when followed, made life easier, and hardship more manageable.
So I thought – why not talk a little bit about some of the things my Elders taught me? And then it occurred to me that all of the words of wisdom I live by don’t necessarily come from my Elders.
I’ve picked three phrases here to dive into a bit. The first is an age-old bit of wisdom from my grandfather.
A man is only as good as his word.
What it means to me is: keep your promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you make plans, don’t cancel just because you want to be lazy. (You might miss something amazing!)
But it goes deeper than that. It’s more than the surface-meaning of “keep your promises.” It also means the converse: don’t say you will, if you have no intention of following through. If you feel like crap on any given day and don’t want to go out to a bar with friends, say, “Not this time, but thanks.”
Say, “yes,” when you mean it, and say, “no,” when you mean it. There’s really no need to be coy, and him-haw around. Just be honest. Put yourself at the top of your list, and honestly weigh each request.
Will it make you happy? Does it add to your well-being? Is it something you’d really enjoy?
I promise you: the more you say “yes” when you mean it, and “no” when you mean it, and follow through, the more your circle of “friends” thins out and becomes a circle of “fam.” You’ll discover just who will stick around for the long-haul, and who keeps you around for when they’re bored.
You don’t need the latter in your life, anyhow. Let them go. Which leads me to …
Do no harm, but take no shit.
This is not an original phrase of mine. I’ve seen it in memes on the Internet, as well as in books on Wicca (though I couldn’t tell you which ones).
It’s a variation on the Wiccan Rede, which is, “An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”
The term rede actually means, “good advice.” It is not a hard and fast rule, and definitely isn’t standard among all Wiccans or all Wiccan circles. I personally don’t subscribe to the idea that Wiccans are not supposed to harm anyone or anything.
Besides it being an impossible standard to strive towards, it’s also nonsensical. Are you really going to stand by and “turn the other cheek,” when someone threatens you or your fam? No? Didn’t think so.
Which is why I subscribed to the variation, “Do no harm, but take no shit.”
I’m speaking on both the mundane and magical planes here.
I won’t deliberately just throw a curse at someone for no reason. I won’t deliberately walk up to a stranger and slap them across the face, either. But if you threaten me or mine, I’m coming for you.
In other words: I won’t deliberately and consciously set out to cause harm to someone. But if you come for me or my loved ones, I’m not about to lie down and take your bullshit.
This goes for the online world, as well.
If I post something, and you don’t agree, that’s fine. You’re certainly allowed your opinion. But opinions aren’t facts and they can still be wrong. So if someone starts throwing judgments around like they’re some kind of Boss Witch, and want to take pot-shots at me, they can have it. But they should expect, at the very least, a short run of shitty luck to come barrelling through their door.
And even though I say that, it should be made clear: I don’t have to throw curses at anyone, or lay roots on them. My Spirits are strong and protective. “The force is strong with this one,” you might say.
I declared in January, 2017, that this is my “Year of No Bullshit.” And I meant that on many levels. (1) I’m not taking anyone’s bullshit. I’ve got my own stuff to deal with, and I’m taking care of me first. (2) I’m not putting out bullshit. Everything I say, or post, I fully intend it to be just what it says. Don’t read into it, don’t analyze it, don’t overthink it. Because the words mean exactly what they say.
And meaning exactly what I say, no more and no less, goes right along with the previous phrase, “A man is only as good as his word.” And being clear and honest about who and what you are with others on the same or similar path is a prerequisite for leadership.
If service is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.
I have no idea where I heard this. I may have read it in a book on leadership. But I stand by it.
Real leadership is not dictatorship – it is not lording power over someone else. Real leadership is communicative, diplomatic, and cooperative. It does not mean I’m a pushover by any means, but it does mean that I intend to work with you, not above you.
True leadership is power-with, not power-over.
True leadership is service.
If something happened in a Covener’s life that just totally freaked them out, I’m here. If they just need an ear to vent to, I’m here. If they need advice, whether mundane or spiritual, I’m here. If one of them is sick and can’t do their dishes, I’m here. If one of them needs a ride to pick up a loved one from the hospital, I’m here.
But – and let’s not get this twisted – because I model this behavior for them as much as I can, I fully expect that they’d be willing to do the same for me. Not only have I been told that they would, there have been a few occasions where one or more of my Coveners have actually done something for me. Even if they haven’t realized it, they have been there for me even when I didn’t realize I needed them.
Because that’s what real fam does.
And it blesses my heart and encourages my spirit, because it’s obvious to me that they’ve paid attention when I’ve said, “If service is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.”
And it really does mean just what the words say. If you’re unwilling to do something, you can’t expect anyone else around you to jump at it.
As a Manager back in my fast food days, I would never ask an employee to do anything I was unwilling to do myself. And before I knew it, even the lazy teens were jumping in, picking up slack, and taking over some of the yuckier cleaning tasks. Of course these were their responsibilities anyhow, but I could not ask them to do something I wouldn’t.
They might’ve been lazy teenagers for the most part, but they began to grow up under my leadership and empathize with other people.
That’s leadership. You model it, and the people around you start to pick it up.
Keep your word – both your “yes” and your “no.” Don’t intentionally harm others, but don’t take their shit, either, whether mundanely or magically. And if you really want to be a leader, you’re going to have to serve others, in both everyday life, and in a spiritual sense. This is how I live my life.
Leave a comment below with some of the words of wisdom you live by, or that some of your own Elders have left you with. (Hint: they don’t have to be Witchy elders to have given you some real wisdom.)