The world seems to have gone mad. Not really of course, but it there are times it feels that way, what with the financial meltdown, an incredibly bizarre VP choice, and the finality of no more WAMU commercials, ever. Crazy times. Scary times. Periodically I look out my window to see if the Mississippi has reversed course like it did in 1812 from an earthquake here in Missouri. Some real activity on the New Madrid fault would be the icing on the cake, especially after waking up to a bed shaking appetizer earlier this year.
All this stuff happening out in the world fits so well with my own business related lessons. In the wee hours of sleepless mornings I sometimes agonize about that fact that, in essence, I gamble for a living. All my careful research, preparations, and process only serve to remind me of all the things I do not control. I may have the ideal candidate, perfectly prepped, and poised to solve real problems at a receptive client. After a lovefest interview and an out of this world offer, my candidate might get an even more out of this world offer and turn my client down, or end up having faked an MBA, or lose the job because the client discovers his ultra-kinky porn site complete with rubber sheets, war paint and golden showers. In perfect situations I am not in control, and I so rarely have the best situations to manage.
It is a great for me to earn a living at the same time as it is crazy making. Every day I come face to face with the fact that no matter how hard I work, or how good I am at what I do, life happens and I am not in charge, even though I want to pretend I am.
Life happens. Sometimes good stuff, sometimes terrible stuff. Walls fall down. We don’t decide what will happen to us, to strangers on the street, or to those for whom we care. We can only control our reactions, and that control is often as much an illusion as any other. I can try to be mindful of how I react to the person that cuts me off in traffic, but, more often than not, my determination to look with eyes of compassion is forgotten when the big truck almost runs me off the road. I’m working on that, but I have a long way to go.
I think wrestling with expectations and illusions of control on a personal and business level have helped me keep some perspective about the direction the world is going, economically, politically, and socially. I can only do what I can do, and mostly that is keeping my head on straight when things go pear shaped. Seeing and accepting circumstances as they really are instead of how I think they ought to be is the only way to have forward motion in an uncertain world. Focusing on that helps me to remember that while I am most certainly not in charge, I do have choices, even when the walls are falling down around me.