Leaning Into your Circumstances

Thoughts on getting the most from things you cannot control... aka "leaning in"

There are only a handful of things we have control over in our lives and at some point, most of us accept the fact that there are A LOT of things we simply can’t control.

I think it happens to all of us a bit differently but ultimately… it’s inevitable.

Maybe you realized it while screaming at the traffic as you missed the most important meeting of your life. Or when your home lost 50% of its value overnight and forced you into foreclosure. Or perhaps, you weren’t so lucky and the moment struck you when you were diagnosed with cancer.

At some point during a circumstance like this, the yelling, screaming, sadness or anxiety switches to a “FUCK IT”!

The resistance leading up to this moment is all-consuming but once we hit “fuck it”, we experience a release. I think the release happens once we have fully accepted the circumstance as something no longer in our control.

Now our focus is singular. The only question to ask is “whats next?” This moment is pretty special because it forces us into a decision.

“A decision is when you cut off any other possibility and you commit to something with everything you’ve got, and you take action” —Tony Robbins

The “fuck it” moment can also happen in positive circumstances. Maybe you were invited to tell your story in front of 5 thousand people unexpectedly. You were terrified as you walked on stage but 5 minutes in you hit “fuck it” and you were on top of the world.

Regardless of the circumstance, you can’t control what other people do, think or feel or say. You can’t control the economy. You can’t change the decisions you’ve made in the past. And for the most part, you can’t control the miracle that is your biology.

BUT… you can control how fast you decide to accept the circumstance as final and act on it.

In the recovery community, they practice something called the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

For the last 3 months, I have been traveling South America with a group of people I just met. In a foreign environment with a language barrier, we are faced with a lot of circumstances we cannot control (in other words… we have had lots of “fuck it” moments).

We faced them so often that we started using a verb for actively embracing these moments and making the most out of them. We call it “leaning in”.

Our definition of “leaning in” resembles a concept from Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”. When you decide to lean in, you are deciding to use the circumstance as leverage. “To gain from the disorder” as Nassim would put it.

“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

To lean into a circumstance is to fully accept it without judgment and use it to your advantage. Most change, good or bad comes with resistance. The urge to come back inside the box that you are familiar with.

Once a circumstance kicks us outside our box we have two choices. We can either normalize and step back inside the box or lean into the circumstance and get way the fuck out of the box.

So the next time you are met with an event or circumstance that throws you off guard ask yourself:

What it would look like if I leaned into this? What would it look like if I did not resist? How can I gain the most from this circumstance?

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