I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. There’s been so much going on in life, work and sport that I have had to become adept at not getting sucked into moments. And you know what, it’s been incredibly liberating and helped settle my mind significantly.
Now, that doesn’t mean I am caring less. It means I am caring differently. What do I mean by that? Well, it is kinda like the old idiom about not sweating the small stuff but with a nuance or two.
We use phrases like that as throwaway clichés that act as suits of armour to protect us from the world around us, but I also think it is to stop what is happening inside us from leaking out too. That’s a nuance for sure. How often do we find ourselves in survival mode in work or life where it is about getting through the next meeting, the next call, the next whatever. Just the next something…
Stressing about all these cumulative moments I feel only serves to debilitate us from being the best version of ourselves we want to be and owe it those around us to be. Ironically, it is likely a combination of the skill, passion, talent and drive we have that puts us in a position to crash into numerous moments to fret us. Yet these tools are the very things we can forget to draw in those periods of heightened stress and pull as judgement gets clouded and worry rises.
I can easily find myself dragged towards in the moment issues in all facets of my life. In work that might be an issue that is affecting our customers or service right now. That need to be ‘present’ when something is going down. When in fact my presence is often not what is needed, like a stationmaster wanting to hold the hose at a fire when I don’t even know what a nozzle is.
In training, it could be being oversensitive to performance in a single session or race and forgetting the 10 great ones that came before that and the 10 great ones following it. At home it could be getting worked up about the behaviour of someone that you cannot control.
What I have come to try and condition myself to do is not to allow those moments to suck the happiness from me but just to accept them for what they are and more importantly, when there is someone so much better than me to deal with the problem / issue / opportunity I have found openly telling them that and then getting out of their way has been the biggest win. For them and I!
By doing so I am much more adept at staying on the path I want to be on. The path I am best as a person to be on. And the path I can help others most on.
In the workplace, especially if you are a manager or someone with some sort of responsibility, we tend to conflate the hierarchy with superior capability when oftentimes it is not, especially where specialisms are involved. There is a culture of looking up for solutions in many businesses rather than around for the truly best answers. Of course, just passing moments onto others to deal with is no dice. As a leader it’s about supporting the people to deal with the moment, not for you to clumsily deal with it for them, muddy the waters and likely cause more issues further down the line.
Instead of caring about whether I have the answers I try to care more about the people who do. Differently. I see my role more now as someone who guides, points and directs people to the things they can do best, and things to the people who can deal with it best. At first it can be disarming. I find this is for two reasons, 1) you believe that you lose some personal value by stepping back, and 2) you realise that metaphorical hammering of the coalface in front of you is not actually that productive, stimulating and rewarding. And then you need to redefine what is for you.
I think I am getting there with it. I still have daft compulsions. Those “I’ll dae it” moments. But this year I have made some changes. I am much more about the impact I can have on tomorrow than today and I feel my inner peace and impact are stoked equally as a result. In worrying less I have become a better person to work with and for, and to hang around with. I hope. Maybe you can too.