When we feel like our control on the world around us is slipping, we can sometimes become angry with it. Judgment, blame and resentment are three of the most common, followed closely by feeling like a victim. Whether it is the result of the economy, our employees, the government, mother-nature or our boss, we have all felt powerless at one point or another.
Now, there is a plethora of self-helpy language around dealing with acountability and taking action, most of which I think has value beyond the sports-cliche metaphors. The question that I am interested in is How have we made friends with those things that are out of our control? The idea being that the longer we fight with reality, the longer that we wish things were different, the harder life can get. Nothing is more humbling than fighting with reality. Try planning an outdoor event in New England if you want to really have a taste of how much you can control.
On a political note:
I think that we see organizations struggling with this every day. The recent NRA announcement is probably a good example of this. While the mood of the nation shifts and mourns a tragedy, they have decided to double down on what they know. Time will tell whether they chose the right strategy, but my instinct tells me that the message is a little tone deaf given the complexity of the tragedy and the nations feelings around it. The mood around guns is changing, and they will most likely need to change with it to stay relevant.
That being said…
The key to dealing with these sorts of problems is to first accept that the problem is there and that it isn’t going away. While “making friends” might seem a little strong, this is a way for us to begin to understand and come to terms with the problem. Once we have accepted the fact that the economy is bad or that it might rain on our company picnic, then we can begin to plan accordingly.
Without acceptance, we are left with paralysis, always hoping that things could be different and sometimes believing that the reality will change if we are just a better person (which leads us to that feeling of victimhood).
When you find yourself struggling against something that you have no control over (and there isn’t a lot outside of your own self that you can control), then see if you can take these tiny steps at coming to terms with it.
1. Acknowledge that you cannot control what is happening. (This is very hard for some people and isn’t to be taken lightly.)
2. Recognize what you can control. (Your own behavior and thoughts around it for one.)
3. Develop a strategy for coping with that reality.
It all flows from that first step, which gives us permission to disenthrall ourselves from the problem and begin to see a solution.
and hug the tiger.