By Don Doman
I was waiting for the “great” man to stand up and speak. He was supposed to be example of what young men who want to succeed can be. I was looking him over during his introduction. He was sitting on the stage with his legs crossed. He was fashionably dressed from his suit and tie down to his shoes. It was while I was looking at his highly polished shoes I noticed the rather large hole in the sole of one of them.
I have no idea what he said during his presentation. I didn’t take notes. I do remember that people seemed to enjoy it and couldn’t wait to rush up to him and shake his hand. All I thought about while he spoke and all I can remember today is the hole in his shoe.
If he had been talking about the need for insurance, or relationships, the hole in the shoe wouldn’t have bothered me. But, he was talking about success . . . and a hole in the shoe and success don’t go hand in hand . . . or even foot in foot.
Seeing a hole in the shoe on today’s well-thought of individual speakers would be very, very rare, but a hole in the shoe doesn’t really have to be literal. It can be figurative.
I met a particular congressman. Later, whenever he talked about family values, I would remember hearing him as he spoke condescendingly and beratingly to his wife over the phone one morning, while I waited just a few feet away from him. That would be his “hole in the shoe.” I know a businessman who speaks about treating his employees well and respecting their opinions. I know him well enough to know that if they said anything that differed from what he wanted to believe, they would no longer be employed by him. That character flaw is that businessman’s hole in the shoe. I’ve been a Rotarian for nearly thirty years. We have what’s known as the Four Way Test for being a Rotarian. The first two questions are “Is it the truth? and “Is it fair to all concerned?” If you are a member and don’t pass the Four Way Test you would be a RINO: Rotarian In Name Only. I know several and I know their “hole in the shoe” faults.
Generally, you don’t even have to know people to see their hole in the shoe. Sometimes you’ll pick up on it by how they act towards other people, the difference of what they say versus what they do, or statements they make which are at odds over what they’ve already said. In the days when people dined with silver dinnerware, Ralph Waldo Emerson said of a political candidate, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” With the price of silver these days I doubt that many people dine with real silverware, but lack of honesty is certainly a “hole in the shoe” for many political condidates and for many that get elected.
It’s too bad we can’t ask potential partners (business and domestic), political candidates, people in positions of trust, to show us the soles of their shoes, metaphorically.
While not everyone is walking around with holes in their shoes, there sure seem to be a lot of “soulless” people to run into. All we can do is watch out for them, be aware of their faults, protect our own feet, and count our spoons when they leave.
Don Doman is a published author of self-help small business books, a digital marketer, an imagineer, and a community instigator.