The Worry Stair

October 9, 2015

A number of years ago I met a very interesting man…he was a speech coach and taught sales training along with presentation skills. Not only was he very good at what he did, but he was also a very unique person. One of his passions in life was anything to do with Great Britain; he was quite the Anglo File. He and his wife achieved their lifelong goal and actually purchased a small cottage in a quaint country village in British countryside. Whenever we would get together for our training sessions, he was always full of new stories about the life and times of the people in the small English township that was his favorite place.

There was one story in particular that stood out to me and I think of it to this very day. One of the bigger characters in that town was the owner of the local pub. This gentleman was described as a larger than life figure who was a favorite amongst the townspeople. Not only was he the keeper of the local tavern, but like many a great bartender, he also doubled as a part time psychologist as well. My friend told me many stories of ‘John the tavern keeper’ who also lived above the bar that was his business on the first floor. Such seems to be the custom in these ancient small towns over there.

As the story goes, John the tavern keeper was a father raising several daughters on his own following the death of his wife. It was said that he had done an amazing job and saw both daughters go on to happy and successful lives of their own. Supposedly the tavern was plastered by pictures of his grandchildren serving as proof of his success.   

Over the years, the speech coach became great friends with the bartender. After a while, he finally asked him what the secret was to his sunny disposition and especially how he raised such beautiful and successful children on his own. With that question, John took my friend by the arm and said… “Come with me, I will show you.” They proceeded to walk up the stairs to the apartment that served as home to the bartender and his family. As they entered the door atop the stairs, the bartender turned and pointed down to the top step. As both men now peered down to the floor, it was now clear that the top stair had a different appearance than the others on which they had climbed. Not only was it a different shade of wood, but it had the words “Worry Stair” clearly marked in embossed letters. The bartender explained that this stair was a vital tool in how he lived his life.

He went on to explain that every day when he came home from work as he was raising his family, he would have to pass this step on his walk home. He said he would make a conscious effort to then leave any tavern related issues or ‘worries’ on that stair as he came home. In his thinking, there are enough worries in daily family life already, why bring more home with you! Conversely, every day on his walk down to his business, he would apply the same logic and then pick up the concerns of the tavern leaving the family worries behind. How simple, yet brilliant!

When I first heard this story, I was very eager to have such a stair in my own life. But of course, the only viable stairs in my house at the time were covered in carpet. Why must everything be so complicated!  I then realized that my stair did not have to be a stair after all… The more I thought about it, anything could serve in this role. For me, it became an ancient oak tree on my drive to and from the office. I think that you now get the idea… So, I will ask you- ‘What is your worry stair?’

In this day and age with our devices and social media, it seems that we are never allowed to compartmentalize our thinking and concentrate on a single task at hand. This is especially hard for those of us with ADD! But I challenge you to try this simple approach and see if it will help you in your daily life.

Thank you for all that you do. Charlie

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