I am not sure my parents really prepared me for all the curveballs that life has thrown at me starting at an early age. In some ways the curveballs have made me incredibly agile to which way to swing, when to duck, and when to let the ball pass right by me. That does not mean that all that movement and reaction is not exhausting, and it also does not mean that I have always reacted, or presented myself in the best of ways. I have high standards and expectations at work and in my personal life. Maybe my dad overly ingrained in my head: “Do it right the first time.” Now to me that does not mean only try once and get it right the first time. What it means in my mind is give it your all and keep at it until you get to where you are going.
“We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we could have imagined.” Page xxvii
The part I love about the above quote is about letting go and letting ourselves be lead to something better than we could have imagined. While I have high standards I also have witnessed how taking a step back and listening to intuition allows for life to sometimes fall into place.
I will give you a tiny morsel from my day on Monday. All morning things kept changing — meetings moved, deadlines shifted, and when I tried to unravel it all it was just horribly frustrating and time-consuming. I kept (as often happens) getting pulled into other things and dealing with requests and the thought that came to me during it all was: ‘Let it go. you will figure it out later… as messed up as it all happens to feel right now.’ Later in the day when I had a moment to look at the mess, each conflict and deadline had actually all moved again and all the things I would have had to unravel were put in a place that worked out. I did not have to do anything other than respond to a few emails and accept moved meetings. No rearranging needed. Now — that does not mean that I think you should procrastinate or that my morsel of happenstance from Monday will occur all the time. What I honed in on from Monday is that I listened to my intuition to let it go for that time and it all worked out.
That is just a small moment in time. Think about what can happen if we let go more often, for the small and the large events in life, and let things naturally be designed in front of us. Somehow the universe has a way of bringing color, hope, and a graceful design that often surpasses what we can imagine for ourselves.
Every day, every interaction is a story. Often the stories that unfold in front of our eyes, are not fun. There can be events and actions from others that transpire and make our story turn into a drama. Other days the story is a comedy and we laugh and have fun throughout the process. Regardless of the genre of our story, the key to it all is that we have control over how we act and react to the stories that fill our days.
I just finished reading the book: “Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, and Al Switzler. It is such a great book both for work and personal life. I took copious notes of ideas that I could use in a professional setting and at home. I am the first to admit that I am not always on my best behavior each and every day. Sometimes an individual’s comment spark the wrong bone in your body, and a reaction occurs. Another individual can make you feel angry, frustrated, hurt, even invisible. There could be a multitude of emotions. What I loved about this book is it helps you to take control of your emotions, be upfront, and not hide behind difficult conversations.
“If we take control of our stories, they won’t control us. People who excel at dialogue are able to influence their emotions during crucial conversations. They recognize that while it’s true that at first we are in control of the stories we tell—after all, we do make them up of our own accord—once they’re told, the stories control us. They first control how we feel and then how we act. Any as a result, they control the results we get from our crucial conversations.” Page 111
Where I sometimes struggle the most is how the story controls us. At times, the story of the day agonize us. We lose sleep, we go on and on about the drama to friends, family, or our spouse so they can feel our pain. Other times we might discuss the issue and talk it out as a resolution so that tomorrow we can rewrite our story. How then can we keep the conversation in our control? How can we ensure that the conversation (especially the bad ones) do not control us, make us unhappy, and mean that we lose sleep? We are all writers for our stories. We decide what will bug us, or get under our skin. We decide what controls us.
What will you decide about the stories you create today?