Rule# 55: Good friends help defend you, family helps bury the bodies

Rule# 55: Good friends help defend you, family helps bury the bodies


Every Thanksgiving we go around the table and say what we are grateful for, and every year Matthew says “for getting through another year without anyone discovering my dark secret”.

Our family knows laughs but knows Matthew is only half kidding, well in Matthew’s case he may only be 1/16th kidding.

The truth is that we all carry secrets about ourselves and our feelings to survive in the “normal” world. They may be silly secrets like embarrassing moments of stupidity like a speeding ticket you are ashamed of or a failing grade of a test you should have aced. Or they may be more deep secrets of failures of moral or ethical judgment like cheating on a test or lying about a missed work or betrayal of a promise.

The only thing certain in life is that if you live long enough you will develop a nice package of these secrets that separate the “real you” from the “public you”.

We see it everyday in the failings of our leaders and idolized celebrities. It can be the lapse of judgement when a distinguished general like General Petraeus comes forward to disclose and FBI affair with a woman 22 yrs his junior. Or it can be a seen as in the arrogance that allows one of the greatest college football coaches of all time to ignore child abuse right under his nose. What these shocking disclosures show us that all of us carry with us as Matthew so aptly describes ” dark secrets”.

I live a life in business that is very unusual. I am paid to develop unconventional solutions to complex insurance and business problems. I’m the guy people go to when they want to insure sexual misconduct in the catholic church or to fix a problem with a group of taxis that has lost so much money for their insurance companies they can’t find insurance. I’m the Harvey Keitel “The Cleaner” character in Pulp Fiction movie that cleans up the blood and mess on insurance problems, crushes the cars and helps the clients be able to survive another day.

Because of this unique skill set I tend to work in a pattern of peaks and valleys- with often having 3 to 4 weeks of 80 hrs weeks followed by periods of downtime. When there’s a dead body in the car I’m busy…when their isn’t I’m less so.

When My wife’s family first met me they see what most people see.. A boring insurance guy with a MBA, a nice suit and cheap haircut. But after while they see my work patterns and income streams allow me very attractive cash flows and periods of time to use it. What they don’t see is my work with my team at the office trying to find win-win solutions for the latest “dead body” insurance problem that was found in some broker client living room.

I tell you all this because you need the context to understand the story of the ride my wife and her sister Sandy had with my in-laws about 2 years after Bobbi and I became a couple.

Bobbi had gone to Cincinnati to visit her family and they were all being driven by her father to the casino for some ” family bonding time” .

Incidentally one reason I love the Nolan family is that a significant amount of the family bonding time is spent inside a casino or cruise ship or both. But I digress…

As they were driving to the casino Bobbi’s Mom leans over into the back seat and says ” Ok I know he isn’t an insurance agent what does he he in the mob ”

After stun feeling the Nolan girls experienced of the statement and realization that not only was she serious that this must have been the ending action to their Mom and Dad  discussions, they laughed hysterically.

But what had happened was the realization that not only did they without a vowel at the end of my name drawn the conclusion that I was the the Tony Soprano of insurance (moniker I’d actually think was pretty cool) but that they were fully prepared are to keep their daughters. dark secret about her new boyfriend.

Unfortunately I know I wouldn’t get a cool nickname like the “Dapper Don” I’d wind up being the “Joey Bag of Donuts” of the insurance Mafia.

But the point of that tale was that if Bobbi had said,  “no he isn’t in waste management, he runs the book for the Philadelphia area”, they were fully prepared to not only support her, but to also hide the secret.

As we go through life we will have to learn to live a life that is truth based and not lie/ secret based. In Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” he explores the damage and harm that can happen to people when these secrets become lies driven to hide the truth of themselves.

Like General Petreaus and Coach Paterno learned that  however deeply hidden the secrets are, eventually they have a way of being revealed. And unfortunately the timing of these reveals will occur when you we most vulnerable or weak..truth will seek its escape from your secrets when you are least prepare to handle them.

So you may Dad telling me not to have secrets and to live a life of complete truth. Hell no, that would be boring and painfully difficult to interact with the millions of other people whom have there own secrets.

What I am telling you is that there are very few people in life that you can truly trust..and like my then future in-laws were prepare to do with their future mobster son in law, your family is who you can turn to.

The distance from who the world thinks you are and who you really are should be the shortest within the family. Our family will be there to accept your failures as well as your successes. We are the people that will come when the call comes at 3 am to meet them at your house with a shovel and a bag a lime with no questions asked.

Seriously, the burdens of the secrets and lies should be significantly less heavy when with the family. There needs to be a place where we all can go to truly be ourselves..and I pray that you will find that safe place within the love of Our family. I truly hope there will be very few bodies to bury in your life.. But you should always know that “Bobster Bag of Donuts” and his trusted wife “Cincinnati Red” will be here to help the burden feel lighter.

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