August 16, 2013

Got Your Six

"I've got your back!"

What does that mean to you?

When you ask someone to be your "six", what do you expect from them?

It seems to me that a wide spectrum exists on the definitions of these two cultural memes.

If you are in the army, it means, "no one is getting to you from behind!"  Quarterbacks, friends, business partners....everyone has their own definition and probably a time when they "have your back" and a time when you are on your own.  In the Board Room or Happy Hour, a business partner may hold fast to his allegiance, but you go home, store the briefcase, trade the suit for t-shirt and shorts and forget to walk the dog or take out the garbage!  "Dude, you are on your own!"

A player on the front line of offense can swear to his Quarterback, "I've got your back. man, no one is going to reach you!" But, honestly, that Green Bay Defensive End was BIG and he looked mean!

For some it means:
1. "If you fall down, I will help you back up!"
2. "You need to talk, I'm here!"
3, "No worries, your secret stays with me!"

Most important is that both parties have a clear understanding of what the other one means when those words are shared.

A blanket statement of "I've got your back" could include fine print that you were unaware of!

ADDENDUM 1: Unless Dad finds out and then you and your sorry ass are S.O.L
ADDENDUM 2: Unless I get a boyfriend and I'm busy.
ADDENDUM 3: Unless we aren't friends anymore and then I am telling the world.

Two people make an agreement. They promise to "watch each others backs". For one partner that might mean that you will be loyal, stand beside them when others hurt them, not make them define "hurt" but try to be compassionate for how they are feeling.

The other partner might think that it means "taking care of the BIG stuff", making sure the bills are paid, the oil is changed and your favorite shows get recorded if you're out for the night. defines loyalty as:
"1. faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
 2. faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.
 3. an example or instance of faithfulness, adherence, or the like: a man with fierce loyalties."
The origin of the word, though, has more to do with legalities than affairs of the heart. In the 14th century you were "loyal" when you did everything in your power to be "faithful in carrying out legal obligations."  (I bet there were no women allowed on the definition committee on that day!)
If you promise to be someone's six, start with communication. If someone promises to be your "six", ask them what they mean. Do not ASS-U-ME to know what they mean. Don't get angry and, especially, don't allow yourself to be hurt, when you didn't know where they were going to draw the line Six/Not Six.  

An old friend, a very long time ago, advised me never to place my trust or my heart in another's care.
Always carry your own heart and trust in your own satchel, especially upon entering dark woods. Tell anyone who asks which satchel carries the gold, which bag carries the biscuits but under no circumstances show anyone the bag that keeps those vital jewels, your heart and trust. 

The good news is, I have someone in my life who "has my back!"  Now, I know what that includes and those items that are not included.  I know what to carry in my own pack and to carry it myself. 

Knowledge gives you strength. It fills you with courage.  You know what can be left behind without worry and what needs to be guarded and kept with you.

Vitally important. If you drop your satchel and the traveler behind you crushes it, do not be angry at the traveler. You were responsible for securing those precious items and your lack of awareness and attention is at fault. It is, after all, your heart.

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