In Confidence we talk about how one interaction, just one, can change how we view similar interactions in the future. In the course I talk about one scenario where it happens, and how to fix it, but I had it once happen to me with a smell.

When I was a kid my dad had car problems. I remember it clearly. My grandparents lived in Stone Mountain GA and we had gone to see them. We lived in an hour away, the family visit took too long, and we got on the road late. And then, it happened…clunk, clink, bang, lights on the dash, my dad pulled us into a service station with a gas pump. My mom took my brother and I to the seating area.

I can still feel it.

Those old vinyl seats, brown, row seats, connected together with rusting metal. A gumball machine, the smell of cigarettes and gas. My mom got us candy from the machine and we sat. In walked a woman, I can still see her 30+ years later – tall, blonde, slender, a black overcoat, and a cane. It seemed so odd, to have a woman so tall and pretty to my young eyes, with a cane. She sat down near us and I stared, like children do. Her perfume was very specific. Her eyes locked with mine as I stared at the cane.

‘Want to see it?’

I looked away. She smiled. I looked back. My mom was taking my brother to the bathroom, my dad was talking to the shop owner, I was frozen and embarrassed like a little kid can be when he’s caught staring. She reached the cane over, smile, and tapped me on the leg with it. She smiled, a kind smile. My mom came back out from the bathroom, apologized to the woman with a ‘was he bothering you, I’m so sorry’ and the woman just smiled and shook her head. She picked up a magazine, I started wrestling with my brother. Her car was finished and as she walked by on her cane she smiled at me.

To this day, when I smell that smell (I later found out it smells like a perfume called Gingham), I am right back in that service station being tapped on the knee.

That one moment in time, that one event, that one experience and now the memory of the experience to this day effects me in a positive way.

I could remember being scared, the car is broken, it’s raining, my parents are mad, my brother pinched me.

But, that smell combined with that interaction…that is what I choose to remember.

We only are who we are today because we have decided what to remember.  

So, let me ask you a question.

What if you decided to remember things or events differently, so that you would have a different identity.  

In effect you could find a different identity if you only looked at different points of your life and decided to remember them differently.

If we think in terms of the an Apple live photo, that sees the image three seconds after three seconds before the event, we find a similar nature to the way that we are in the past. We remember the event, because we look back on life in terms of points of events. We focus on the moment, the memory of that moment, but not the 3 seconds before and 3 seconds after.

When you think in terms of success or failure, do you remember that before or after success or failure we remember moment of the success or failure itself.

But, I would encourage you the next time you have a moment when you prejudge a situation, or a person, think about why you are prejudging it, think about the moment that you are remembering…and think about the 3 seconds before and the 3 seconds after. Think about the whole situation, ask yourself, are you remembering everything as it happened?

As we discuss in Confidence, a lot of where you are today is because of how you remember the past. When you look at the whole of the past, not the moments within it, you might be surprised how you can find a new way to view the present and plan the future.