Prophets are said to be without honor in their own countries. In the same way, our family and closest friends often don’t recognize our superhero qualities. They’re too close to us. Our warts fill their field of vision, preventing them from seeing our true selves. They need to back up (and in some cases back off) until they see that our warts are truly beauty marks. Warts give us character. Quirks give us personality. Warts and quirks, for males, can be signs of rugged individualism, which is one of my best qualities. It just doesn’t come through in photos. Or in person.
Heaven knows if it weren’t for my warts and quirks, I wouldn’t have any personality, and probably wouldn’t exist at all.
The wart syndrome, as we know it in the Joe Zone, can lead to the enigma that those who don’t know us very well know us better than those who know us best. A classic case of this occurred a few years ago, when my daughter was in college. I had transferred to a new department at work, and had immediately befriended a guy with a hitting-on-all-cylinders personality. His charisma and my reserved demeanor were in such sharp contrast that you could slice a finger on it. We shared some common interests, but seemed so different on the outside, that many thought us an unlikely duo. But he seemed to enjoy my small jokes (though he had the reputation as the comedian), and I often parceled out some personal advice, like a condiment, on the technical guidance I provided.
One day, I related to Mrs. Zone what I thought was an uplifting story about my new friend. “Elvis made me feel good today,” I said. “He and Beyonce were walking together toward me, and he turned to her and said, ‘If you’re ever down, and need a smile or a good word or good advice, go see Joe. He can lift your spirits better than anyone I know.’”
Mrs. Zone gave me an astonished look. “You? He said that about you?”
My crest fell about three feet. “Well, yes. Why not?” Let’s just say Mrs. Zone couldn’t quite see it.
Later that evening, we called our daughter at college, each on a separate extension. Mrs. Zone’s voice was bursting with anticipation. “Hey, Little Zone, guess what someone said about Dad today.” And she related the story.
There was a palpable pause before Little Zone’s voice came over the line. “Dad? He said that about Dad?” Evidently she couldn’t see it either.
Yes, it was the wart syndrome. Companies do it with their employees, husbands and wives with their spouses. If you find you’re guilty of this with your loved ones, take a step back from them. Maybe a second step. See them as others do. If necessary, take off your glasses. Turn your head to one side. Heck, I know some people that are best viewed from a coma.
But I always remember, the feeling is probably mutual.