Photo By E. Rachel Thompson
My last post was inspired by the first 100 days of the U.S. President (click here to read it) and what better way to follow up than be inspired by the runner up in that election. This week, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, made a public appearance and presented some of the reasons why she believes the election was lost. Again there is no political motivation here but rather what can I learn from these events.
There are lessons in just about everything we do and the lessons are different for each person. I do not wish to criticize her actions nor do I wish to give a commentary from my perspective. Without walking in her shoes or for that matter not walking and knocking on doors for the cause, I have not earned the privilege of weighing in on the matter in a public forum. Dedicating so much time, energy and effort to this cause and losing what seemed a certain victory would have been devastating to anyone in a similar position.
What is the important lesson in this news story at least for me? I have learned that the first thing to do when finding fault is to point my finger at the mirror. What is it that I can do or change to make things better the next time. When we allow ourselves to focus on someone or something else, it means that change can only happen outside of our control and that is not an effective or efficient way to make change. Here’s an example.
One day I got a call from someone who was purchasing my product – a beautiful art glass table – through a designer. The original quote was too large and when we re-quoted the slightly smaller table, he was complaining that we didn’t discount it enough. As much as I wanted to tell him where he could put that table, I did my best to remain calm. The conversation lasted a few minutes and my displeasure grew with each passing second. When the phone call was over, I had to let the steam out and my girlfriend was the recipient of this outburst. Although she knew I wasn’t upset at her, I was verbalizing the complaints as though I were. The last thing I bickered to her was something like, “I can’t believe the nerve of that guy…… Now I need to figure out what is making me so angry!” After that, I exclaimed, “Sometimes self-growth sucks!” and actually laughed at myself.
The point is this; I had been given plenty of reasons to be angry but I didn’t use that as the excuse. Yes, his actions contributed greatly to it but I allowed myself to become upset. Ultimately, I accepted responsibility for becoming angry. All of us encounter incidents which happen out of our control. These can be quite challenging and even devastating. But WE have the opportunity to control our own response. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you may have every reason to show your displeasure in any number of ways but YOU ultimately make the choice to do so. In this type of incident, it may provide temporary relief to respond with a simple gesture but we also don’t want to allow our emotions to create further actions that may have other adverse effects.
In some circumstances, using the actions of others as motivation can be an effective way to take bad behavior and flip it on its head, turning someone’s negative actions into a positive outcome for us. This stops the negativity from manifesting itself within us and instead channeling those emotions in a more positive way.
When we blame others for our conduct, it doesn’t resolve the issues. In fact it may even prevent us from finding the right solutions or actions. This week when something or someone makes your blood boil, see if you can catch yourself and utilize the emotions in a positive and meaningful way. You just may find yourself saying, “Sometimes self-growth sucks!”
As always, I look forward to your comments and thanks to E. Rachel Thompson for the beautiful photograph.