Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do you want an NSA teammate to lose respect for you? Then say these words...

Good evening everyone,

As we turn the page to fall, I must say I love this time of the year. Not because it's the calm before the raw winter nights with crisp air that pierce our senses, not because it's kickoff for the NFL and fall festivals, but because there's something about September that gets me all revved up-the feeling of knowing that there is so much more to accomplish in life and for the cause of stuttering as well.

I wanted to use this edition of my blog to talk about an action that has a dire consequence. One of the very first lessons I learned as a teammate who was getting involved with the NSA was to respect myself-and respecting yourself means others. We've all had situations at jobs where there may be a colleague that we just can't stand, who has annoying habits that drive us up the wall-maybe it's playing the music loud, or taking credit for something we might have contributed to making the workplace productive. I love my teammates, and I also know that are times we can get on each other's nerves. But there's one phrase that will guarantee that an NSA teammate will lose all respect for you, and you'll never get it back. Just say these words, and here they are:

"You threw me under the bus."

This phrase has probably been uttered countless times in the sports locker rooms, but it doesn't have more of an impact than it does today. Being a teammate and a leader in the NSA means accepting that we need to come together for the sake of greater glory. Watch what happens when it's reported that someone complains that another is being paid more, and then it is blown up in the media, because things like that should be kept in-house. Too many times in high school and college I was teased and rather than stand up for myself, I would run to the principal to make the problem go away. The more appropriate thing to do would have been to stand up for myself and approach the person face-to-face and try to work the problem out. Instead, I threw him under the bus. And along with that, I lost my self-respect in the process.

When I think of the phrase "to throw someone under the bus," I think about NHL star forward Dany Heatley. A good scorer, yes, but a very poor teammate. If you don't know his story, Heatley was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers and suffered through a very emotionally trying experience: he was charged with vehicular homicide when he drove too fast and killed his teammate. The family of the teammate who died (Dan Snyder) could have told him to go to hell, and they would have been justified in saying so. But the Thrashers team and community supported him, even saying nothing would be gained by imprisoning him. And how did Heatley respond? He asked to be traded. He moved to the Ottawa Senators, and complained about how he was being treated. The coach found it "hard to accept," and he was again dealt-a reputation follows you everywhere. If you care about yourself and your fellow teammates, don't ever throw one under the bus. My relationships with my NSA teammates mean everything to me. They are a very important part of my life, and need to be cherished. So do your relationships.

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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