Who Are You to Yourself?

I read a story last weekend about Neil Armstrong’s belongings. His family is auctioning off a number of his artifacts, including items he took on a business trip to the moon in 1969.

One of these artifacts is a rejection letter Armstrong received in 1974 from the Diners Club International. Five years after being the first man on the moon, the Diners Club rejected Armstrong’s application for a credit card.

I can only assume Armstrong believed in a version of the old Woody Allen quote: Planet Earth may not be all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s still the best place to get a good steak.

Sometimes people cast doubt our way that doesn’t line up with how we see ourselves. That may be why the Armstrongs kept the Diners Club letter – because it didn’t fit. I’d guess it was more of a “get a load of this,” rather than a retention of financial correspondence.

When Neil Armstrong’s sons were young, they didn’t think much about his astronaut work. One of them, actually, was upset that he would have to miss playing in a Little League All-Star game in the summer of 1969. Instead, he had to go with his family to Cape Canaveral for the launch of Apollo 11. You can imagine Armstrong consoling his son in this disappointment: “I hear ya, but I want you with the family. This is a big deal.”

Not everyone understands what you’re doing, or why. Who you are to them is what matters.

Armstrong’s son said it was as if his dad had taken “a business trip to the moon.” No big deal. To him, he was Dad.

There’s a bit of old advice that still holds true: “Be nice to people on the way up because you may see them again on the way back down.”

Neil Armstrong, his son said, deflected attention from his small step because he wanted the credit to be rightly shared with all the people who had made it possible. The people he met on the way up – a literal phrase for him – presumably appreciated that. They helped him get back down too.

I don’t know what it’d be like to not need people… as if somehow I could reach a status that it would no longer matter what I said or did… as if I could cause offense and not give it a second thought. Even if I could get away with it, I’m not sure what kind of luxury that would be.

Who you are to people matters. Who you are to you matters too.

When I was growing up, the space race was still a thing… getting to the moon before the decade was out and all that. I don’t remember anything about this prior to Neil Armstrong’s small step. Adults probably knew that this thing was in the works. My father probably knew. When I was young, he told me bedtime stories about a little girl named Minnie riding in a rocket to the moon. He preferred fantasy to reality. This became a bigger problem than a bedtime story, but that’s who he was to me … someone whose feet weren’t planted on earth.

When something doesn’t make sense, you look for what you can to explain what it means. In the stories you tell about what happened, you build your perspective, your instincts, your reality. But here’s the thing I didn’t know until much later. These stories can change.

I like the word alignment; it’s good when our actions align with our beliefs. Or, rather, our stated beliefs. Because our actions probably do align with our actual beliefs. Could there be something in your set of beliefs that you have gotten wrong?

I’ve been surprised by how many things I misunderstood or misconstrued. Or those times I just missed the boat. That’s why I wrote Your Story Shaping Blueprint. I was also a little irritated to have taken so long to figure all of this out. Why needlessly believe things that are simply untrue?

Who are you to the people around you? Are you being the kind of person you believe yourself to be? Who are you to yourself? Is there something in your set of beliefs that you want to change?

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 34

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