There will always be times when life does not turn out the way we intended.
The storm of life throws unexpected obstacles to impede our desired course of action.
At times, we are forced to gather every single ounce of strength within us to weather the storms’ challenges.
It is through this process of gathering strength that we can discover that the mind is infinitely elastic and adaptable.
While the mind can not control the storm’s challenges themselves, it can shape the way we perceive them.
It is here, in the mind, that we have the power to control the narrative.
‘The space between stimulus & response is man’s greatest power to choose’ Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning).
This space is where we can choose our responses, it gives us the potential to adopt perspective & gain control of our mind.
Think of your daily commute;
No amount of anger & frustration hurled at opposite drivers will change their path of cutting in front of you. Similarly, lambasting the transport staff will not make the train magically career into the station in a more timely fashion.
In these everyday examples, we are all too quick to fight the unwinnable battle, the circumstances outside our control.
Yet when we focus on what we can control, our response, our minds are free from negative emotions.
Even in the most extreme cases of despair it’s possible to re-frame the experience and find some unintended virtue.
Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, had no choice but to let the guards have power over his physical domain but, what he never gave up was the inner freedom of his mind.
He chose to focus on positive meaning & purpose in this hell; holding thoughts of seeing his wife & family, providing psychiatric therapy to fellow inmates suffering trauma.
By his own account it is this choice that saved his life & gave him the strength to endure the harrowing experience.
Sustainable resilience can be found when we clearly identify & separate the matters which we can & can’t control.
If Viktor Frankl, can look within & draw the positive perspective despite the torturous & inhumane conditions within the Nazi concentration camps it stands to reason that, in most everyday conditions, we can to.
Having completed our daily commute, free from negative emotions, the following mental aids can help us draw perspective when we get to the office.
- Maintain wider purpose and perspective of what your job allows for : learning from mistakes, developing people skills, lifestyle it provides, potential new relationships (friendship / connections).
- Whatever challenges you are facing others have likely faced before. Whilst you may not know everything at present there will be someone willing to help.
- As far as your company is concerned, your mandate is to do a good job just like anyone else. Focusing on being hard to replace should be balanced with the prospect that the output of your role is always replaceable (intern or a partner). With this in mind, it is important to take the time for yourself to unwind, re-energise & decompress.
If we focus on making clear what parts of our day are in our control & adopt perspective, we are no longer pushed and pulled as victims.
We are happier, we have more control & we have greater capacity to find solutions to sooth the stresses of everyday life.
What’s more, is we have a distinct advantage over the competition that fails to realise they are fighting an unwinnable battle.
We become the calm eye of the storm.