A shift in thinking for the New Year         

I read an article that inspired some thinking about and discussing the futility of trying to control the universe – a lonely and futile pursuit. The article uses “a bowlful of frogs” as a metaphor. Writer Seth Godin says, “To move forward is to give up on getting all the frogs in the bowl. Wouldn’t it be great, we wonder, if we could just find stability, if everything would work out just the way we hope, if finally, finally, all the frogs were in the bowl.”

Expect the unexpected and you’ll be right

Another writer, one my favorites, Pema Chodron has written a book, Fail Fail Again Fail Better.

She invites us to welcome the unwelcome with curiosity rather than dread. Ms. Chodron says, “What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped? We say, ‘I’m a failure.’ But what if failing wasn’t just ‘okay,’ but the most direct way to becoming a more complete, loving, and fulfilled human being?”  What I say is that very often, the difference between success and failure is, as they teach in yoga classes, to relax around discomfort. To be objective rather than emotional when life doesn’t go our way. For many of us, this approach is learned rather than innate. Developing a more relaxed state of being t is well worth the effort.

How do you react to the unexpected? Think back to the last “surprise” you had to face in the office.

The cliché is right. You can only control yourself. Instead of overacting or blaming or showing anger when a frog jumps out of the bowl, my suggestion is to take a deep breath, assess things objectively, ask your staff for suggestions or help. And do your best to solve the problem. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. That is expected too. But being collaborative at those times makes your team more cohesive, with new tools to face the next challenge.

As we leave this most unpredictable year, let’s at least learn from it

Trying to keep frogs from jumping out of a bowl is humorous, of course, but it is a great reminder of the trap we can get ourselves into. 2020 is certainly proof of that. There is a certain grace in approaching life with ease.  Feeling like you failed in some way is not the end; it’s a teaching moment. And it is not permanent unless we obsess over it. Part of creating a wonderful balanced life with time for what you love means allowing for the inevitabilities that life dishes up.