Let’s Pause……For Just a Moment
These are unprecedented times we are living in.
The writer, Solomon, while recounting his life is asking the question “what is the meaning of life”?
What he realizes is that sometimes human insight cannot provide a clue as to what is meaningful and only comes from “the wisdom which is from above.” In one of the most beautiful poems in Solomon’s writing, he shows how there is purpose and balance to all things, even in our present circumstances.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Take a moment to consider these words and see which of these statements applies to today.
The pandemic is an event most of us have never seen in our lifetimes. Our routines have been disrupted. Some people have had their livelihoods destroyed, and others have lost a family member or friend. The economy has been reset and could take years to recover; as many as 10 years some experts say. And just when we are seeing some improvement, a flattening of the curve and slowly opening up the economy, George Floyd is murdered right before the eyes of people all across the nation. Another pandemic? The scope of a pandemic affects either an entire country or the entire world as a whole. I think we are at a point in history to decide if we are going to treat this social pandemic. I heard a quote from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar today that really hit me. “Racism is like dust or pollen, when you stand in a room you don’t see it, but when you shine a flashlight on it, it is everywhere.”
As we move forward in the next days and weeks and months, let’s take a minute to stop and consider what is happening around us. Let us consider our own perceptions and prejudices. Our current sources for information are significantly flawed. The news is biased. Social media is filled with emotion, unfiltered hatred, and unproven facts about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is up to us to push the pause button just for a moment and make sure that we are standing on solid ground. Consider the acronym STOP. It stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed. Proceed with a level head and a pure heart. Human lives and the stability of our country hang in the balance.
Our relationships have been significantly impacted during these times, and in some ways, for the better. For me these circumstances have allowed me to speak and act more completely from my heart, and not so much from routine and reaction.
We are amazing people! For every negative news story, there are dozens of instances of generosity, compassion and service to others. These stories go largely unreported. Let’s hold on to what we have learned and live on in the spirit of camaraderie.
So, what is it for you? Line 7 of Solomon’s poem rings true to me.
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.
Stop and take a breath.
How can you take the practices and principles of past success and apply those to a current challenge in your life? Develop a legacy.
As I work to grow my coaching business, I have run into some challenging moments. It is a startup of sorts and coming from the corporate world I knew nothing of starting up a business from scratch. The daily pressure to build a new business, the new relationships, the concept of sales and of course I need to develop some revenue. One day a couple of months ago, I was on the phone with my coach (yes, coaches have coaches) and we started talking about the determination it takes to build a successful coaching practice. I am reminded of a challenging chapter in my life that boosted my confidence and motivation, reminding me that I can succeed at anything I put my mind to.
Years back, before the advent of the computer and word processing, I was laid off from a job soon after I had moved across the country to accept the position. Needless to say, I was stunned and a little confused—maybe really confused, about the layoff. “So, when is my last day?” I asked. “Tomorrow!” he replied. After just picking up my entire life, selling a house in a bad market, and moving to san Diego, there I was...No job, no severance and few local connections. So, I appealed to the owner of the company to let me keep the company vehicle for a couple of weeks so that I could get my job search together and work at finding a new job. He reluctantly agreed and my quest for the next chapter ensued. After getting in the truck to drive home, I just sat there thinking what next?
Being without a job was a very uncomfortable place to be.
There were a few options. Option one, get bummed and depressed. Option two, get angry and lash out. Option three, take advantage of the opportunity and take a few months off, learn to surf, read a few books, etc. None of those options really worked for me at that moment so what about option four; make a plan and get to work finding a new job. So, on my way home, I stopped at a local office supply and rented an IBM Selectric typewriter and purchased about 30 sheets of nice paper. Yes, I said typewriter. It was blue. It was heavy. It was noisy. It had one of those spinning balls that had the entire alpha-numeric keyboard on it and when you typed a letter it would spin furiously to the right position and imprint that letter on the paper. It had a hard time keeping up with my blazing 20 words per minute pace, but it got the job done. The IBM Selectric’s signature feature was that it had a typing correction function (a big deal at the time, trust me!). If you typed a wrong letter, you just hit the backspace key and then held down the correction key and typed the wrong letter again and it would overwrite the incorrect letter with correction tape. Needless to say, you were very careful while typing so that you did not spend all of your time correcting misspelled words. As I am writing, my affection for the backspace key on my computer is strong.
Also, while driving home, I began to think about how I would tell my wife that I was let go that after the big move to San Diego to take this job. For a few moments I considered not telling her that I lost my job and just leave every day like I was going to work and search until I found a new position and then tell her…. “Hey, I lost my job a little while ago, but I found a new one”. That typically doesn’t go well in the movies. But on a serious note, that didn’t seem like a good option as it did not demonstrate much integrity. So, I just told her. Of course, she was sympathetic, comforting and supportive as I began my quest to find a new job.
That evening I spent several hours crafting a resume and then typing it up on the Selectric. And yes, I did use the correcting feature a few more times than I would like to admit. The next day was Friday, my last day, and after arriving at the office, I made copies of my resume and cleaned out my desk. After doing some research in a few industry journals, I made a list of companies that fit with my experience. On the drive home there was a sense of peace and a little excitement knowing that come Monday, the job search would begin in earnest.
When the alarm went off on Monday morning, I was ready for the challenge. My plan was to drive to each company’s main office, check in at reception and ask to talk with whomever was in charge of hiring. At each stop I had to sit in the car for a few minutes, pray for courage and recite the opening lines scripted for that company. As my wife likes to say, “it just takes 90-seconds of courage to get started.” I did this for several weeks and to my surprise about 30% of the companies interviewed me on the spot. Some were 5-minute courtesy interviews, some were 30-0minute in-depth discussions. Long story short, I had a new job in a matter of weeks.
Now, I tell this story not to toot my own horn, but to illustrate that we can look back at experiences in our lives that worked out well and apply the same principles to create success today. This story reminded me that I’m resilient and have the ability to do anything I put my mind to do. The same is true for you. What is your story of success and how can you take the practices and principles of that past success and apply it to a challenge you have in your life today?
I would be glad to help you develop your legacy of success.