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A farm boy spent the better part of a morning and afternoon using a wedge to split logs into firewood. As with all farms, there are other pressing chores to do. He left his work with full intention of returning, placing the tool in the neck of a young tree near his bedroom window, to go and perform his other duties. As repetitive as farm work can be, sometimes things are misplaced or forgotten, as was the splitter. Eventually, the young man inherits the farm and raises his family. Years later, after his children are grown, he stands watching a storm brew outside his window. As with most bad weather, there are the usual elements: wind, rain, thunder, and lightning. While the storm raged, a bolt of lightning hit the once young tree, tearing it in half. At that moment, the old man remembered the day of chopping firewood and where he left the splitter. He had forgotten that he had placed the splitter in the wedge of the two branches of the sapling. Over the years the tree grew sturdy and strong as the bark engulfed the tool. Yet, it was that small piece of metal that attracted the bolt of lightning, shattering that which took years to cultivate.

How often has time passed and something that you’ve forgotten has come back to haunt you? It could be a small white lie, a poor business choice, or something you think is a complete secret. Then, years go by smoothly until one day, without warning, the skeleton falls out of the closet, destroying your world. There is a statement that is very profound: “If you always tell the truth, you’ll never have to remember what you said”.

Long gone are the days that a business handshake sealed the deal with integrity. Today, business contracts are no sooner signed, when both parties obtain a memory lapse. In the end, it requires a team of lawyers to jog the memories of the individuals that are involved in the agreement. Honesty, and all its aspects, is falling far from the negotiation table; yet a union of two entities require this basic foundational block to succeed. Having a cornerstone of trust allows both parties in an alliance to prosper, bearing the fruits of a positive public impression.

If image is the first thing that a person notices, then words are the last things that people remember. However, the question stands, how will you be regarded after leaving an interview, conducting a business transaction, or a team meeting? Another thing to consider is, will a business hire you in the future if financial issues require a temporary parting of the ways? Oftentimes a team will look like they are running smoothly, but the waters beneath its surface may carry a destructive current, and you are the source. A way to easily combat negative undertows is to be positive without overdoing it and becoming an annoyance. Adulations for co-workers, employers, and anyone really, is to recognize large and small achievements. Straightforward, sincere statements like, “Nice work on that job” and “Your hard work sure shines through” is appreciated. There is always something good behind any effort, even if the effort didn’t complete the goal. It is always best to think before speaking and calm any aggressive emotions before critiquing. Remember: it is not about you, it’s about them and the work.

The phrase “Let it go” is a sound recommendation. Unresolved, hard feelings can fester for decades, manifesting itself from time to time. This underlined animosity will be an irritation at first, taking you away from moments of creativity as your focus is diverted to something unproductive. Subconsciously dwelling on personal issues between teammates, employers, and family members can escalate at the most inopportune time. Eventually, resentment and unchecked bitterness can become cancerous, leaving management only one option: cut it out, meaning termination of one or both individuals. However, if the friction is caught early and the parties involved can strive to find mutual ground, then all participants will return to being a cohesive group.

Building a history of positive reinforcement based on integrity and respect to those striving to make a difference in their environment will benefit you and all those within your network. Being more in your life is focusing on the moment and planning for the future by removing the splitters from your thoughts and life.