Perspective. Sometimes it hits you over the head like a bucket of ice cold water.
I was down on Capitol Hill last week with a colleague, visiting policy-makers and gathering information for my clients. In our final meeting of the day, we received some news that could negatively impact our biggest customer. I could feel my stomach turn and my chest constrict.
We both trudged out of the meeting with our heads down. Silently, we waited for a cab as we painfully absorbed the bad news.
Suddenly, a taxi pulled up and a booming voice bellowed out from inside.
“Welcome my friends!”
Oh, boy. This guy was WAY too happy.
We piled into the back and slumped into our seats.
“My friends, why do you look so sad?”
Just drive the cab, buddy.
“Is it your health? Perhaps your family?”
What is this, 20 questions? C’mon!
Finally, my colleague broke the silence. He begrudgingly explained the disastrous meeting. The cabbie listened intently and then broke into a giant smile.
Was he making fun of us?
“My friends, I am from Sierra Leone. As you know, we have endured many atrocities in our country. Sometimes, it seems impossible to go on. But we have a saying that keeps us moving forward:
Don’t complain about your shoes, when your neighbor has no feet!
Splash! Ice bucket challenge in the back of a DC Taxi!
It’s All About Perspective
Our everyday lives can become overwhelming. We have massive financial responsibilities. We have to preserve the family structure. We have people counting on us to perform. We have to meet the emotional needs of our close friends and family members. With so much on the line, we can quickly lose our perspective.
And the smallest setbacks can have an inverse impact on our self-worth and self-esteem.
A bad meeting. A lost client. A failed test. A missed market opportunity. A blown assignment. A lapse in judgement. A failure to execute. A broken relationship. A stinging defeat.
These moments are raw and they are real. But are they permanent? Are they catastrophic? Do they define us? Of course not!
With the proper perspective, we don’t get as stressed about the general churn of the day. We can see hope in the face of despair.
Defeat is temporary. Failure is a moment in time, not a destination. Relationships break and then they mend. We can’t let these temporary setbacks dictate our success and happiness.
With so much going for us, we can’t let one bad meeting ruin our day!
Fill the Most Important Buckets
Think of all the buckets we have to fill in our life. Family. Friends. Work. School. Social. Athletics. Hobbies. Relationships. There is a lot to juggle. But which buckets must we prioritize? That will help determine where we focus our time and energy.
If our work bucket is full but our family bucket is dry, what is the point? If our hobby bucket is full, but our friend bucket is dry, where is the joy? We must constantly prioritize the things that truly matter in our lives. If we lose that perspective, then it is easy to drift from one destination to the next.
Without those priorities firmly established, the little things can knock us even further off course. We can all use reminders to help reset our priorities and get back on track. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Even a taxi ride!
It’s time to wake up! Sometimes, a bucket of ice cold water is exactly what we need!
We Still Need to Get Stuff Done
But we have to be careful about completely ignoring the other buckets. Family and relationships are key. But we can’t blow off our responsibilities at work. We can’t stop studying for our exams. We can’t dismiss our clients, abandon our co-workers, and let down our classmates. Perspective is crucial but we still need to get stuff done!
Our day-to-day execution still matters. Perspective doesn’t give us an excuse to take our eye off the ball. We will still face frustration and turmoil. We will still face a roller coaster of good news and bad news in our everyday lives. It is part of the journey and some days will be better than others.
But perspective allows us to smooth out the hills and turns. Perspective allows us to stretch beyond our immediate roadblocks. Perspective allows us to ride out difficult moments and see the greater purpose in our lives.
What Is Most Important?
We can’t let the every day grind extinguish our will to succeed. We can’t let temporary losses define our happiness. If we are to stay resilient, we must keep our priorities straight.
Health, family, friends, relationships. Do we have those in place? If so, we can summon the strength to keep battling. If so, what do we really have to complain about?
Our shoes may be scuffed up and dirty, but let’s face it, life is pretty good.
Until next week, keep smiling!