Note: I wrote this several months ago after Kobe Bryant’s death. The pandemic has taken a great many things away from us, including my ability to share these thoughts with you, but it cannot take away our independent will.
To be great at anything, it takes a remarkable amount of sacrifice and indescribable determination. In turn, the one unique gift that we all have is our independent will. We are not our emotions and we have the ability to choose our response in any situation. In fact, we have the ability to choose how we spend our time each and every day.
Over the years, we have written a great deal about engagement. We talked about how to engage with your clients and your community. But, maybe it is time to step back and disengage in order to re-engage our senses. In other words, we may want to let go in order to regain both our sanity and our humanness.
Back in 1999, I worked for a Dotcom that was going to disrupt the entire distribution business. We went from 15 to 115 people in the blink of an eye and we cut through millions of venture capital money like a hot knife through butter. Internally, people were super excited because they thought they were going to get filthy rich based on the innovative platform we had created. Unfortunately, we found out that having a relationship with the market actually mattered more than the fancy website and two years later, the doors closed.
With a great big spoonful of obviousness, it is clear that people are suffering—mentally, physically and economically. While a variety of surveys and data can confirm the level of stress in the country, it is equally as obvious that we don’t need a stupid poll to tell us what we already know. The good news, however, is that stress is usually rooted in worrying about what we cannot control. We just need to focus on the things on which we can have an impact.
There is an old adage that “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” And while nobody in the world would dispute the chaotic landscape we find ourselves within, a little look in the mirror for all of us might be in order. The events of the past four months have been awful, but I wonder if maybe the problems are exacerbated by the culture we have collectively built the past couple of decades.
I love to tell my kids about all of my friends in my neighborhood when I was young. I barrage them with stories about building forts, riding our bikes all over creation and playing capture the flag until dark. As you can imagine, they are both pretty sick and tired of hearing about my amazing childhood and all of my great memories.
Our goals are normally pretty straightforward. We aspire to go to a certain college or make a specific team. We want to make a pile of money or rise to a level within an organization. But what happens when the goalposts move? What if those objectives feel unattainable or lose their merit?
I once visited my brother in Florida and he showed me a row of mind-blowing oceanfront mansions. Appropriately named “The Miracle Mile,” these homes had guest homes that had guest homes. They had multi-million dollar boats, infinity pools and lavish landscapes. These were clearly the homes of the rich and famous.