Squeaky Shoes Happen – A Metaphor

Putting on my shoes this morning I had the thought again. “Why am I wearing my squeaky shoes?” I have several pairs of shoes, although only a few are suitable for work. My newest Johnston & Murphys were a miracle. After I had been told that my size was no longer being manufactured, I continued to search store after store anyway. I discovered these by chance in my local Dillards after I had given up hope. 

This pair is brown and black. Their duo-tone nature makes them the perfect business travel show. No matter what I choose to wear, the shoes work.  

And the right one squeaks. For almost a year now.

I don’t know why or what happened although the trigger was most likely a water puddle. “Why” doesn’t really matter anymore. On hard services, there is an audible squeak everytime I step.

I have learned that I can walk just a certain way to prevent the squeaking. The odd angle I have to assume to distribute weight during walking is probably not good for me. But, for months now, the squeaky shoe has determined my gait. My desire to quell the squeaking has taken control.

This morning I took back control of my stride — and my life. I decided that I could live with the squeak or stop wearing the shoes. One or the other. No more walking funny as an answer. It slows me down. And then there’s the constant fear that somewhere a video camera is capturing it all. No, I’ve done what I can do and the truth is the truth. My right show squeaks.

I’ve written a couple of times recently about the importance of trust and truth in relationships. It doesn’t matter whether those relationships are professional or personal, trust and truth have everything to do with how healthy and productive those relationships become.

My squeaky shoe is a metaphor for a difficult relationship. Sometimes, conflict arises in relationships. We value the other person, perhaps even love them. But they squeak. Something in our interaction and environment causes friction and that annoying, unexpected sound. Not only do we notice it, but those around us start to listen for it.

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We do what we can to address it. Perhaps we even change our own behavior in an effort to reduce or eliminate the friction. We walk differently. But in those moments when we must move with speed and efficiency, the squeak is there.

If you know my approach to conflict management, you know that my squeaky shoe has received a lot of attention. I’ve examined it closely to determine if something can be physically done to stop the squeak. I’m thinking perhaps silicone injections. But in the meantime, I’ve come to realize that short of altering my own behavior in a way that holds me back, I have to either live with the squeak or get rid of the shoes.

One of the most painful moments we face at work, at home, or even at church, comes in the moments when we have to look closely at relationships and make the decision whether to persevere or move on. I advocate persevering for the period of time it takes you to honestly examine your own part of the problem and make appropriate adjustments. However, once that is done, the decision must be made.

For now, my right shoe squeaks.  I’ve decided I can live with that because the squeak comes only on hard surfaces and I, for the most part, live and work in a carpeted world. Plus, I like the shoes. I just accept that when I step out in those harsher environments, the squeaking will be there. However, I know that if the noise ever lessens my effectiveness and diverts me from mission, I’ll simply remove the shoes and replace them with a more collaborative pair.

If you see me sometime soon and I’m wearing my cowboy boots or athletic shoes, just know that the decision was made and I’m moving on.

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