Today you found out you were laid off from work. Beyond the shock, you felt dejected and angry. Angry that they chose you, angry that you hadn’t left on your terms, and shocked that after all those years of service – you were the one they picked. Your upbringing has made you want predictability, dislike taking risks, and like the routine this job gave you. When the confusion of what happened clears your head, think about the following: Yes, you were the one they chose. But what if by choosing you they did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself? Give you the freedom to do something completely different in life, reinvent yourself, re-ignite and chase old dreams. What if by choosing you they liberated you from the fear that holds you back from taking risks, embracing uncertainty and new routines in life? There should be no question in your mind that you will succeed at whatever you put your mind to.
You are an intelligent, passionate, loving, caring, compassionate human being with all the attributes that define success. You have the IT factor, the right stuff. The stuff that separates smart people from highly successful people. So, go for it. Take the time to explore what else, what if. You will be tempted to jump right back in, to go back to the routine of what you know. If you do, do so only after you have tested new waters, the uncharted ones, the ones you’ve dreamed about. Don’t live to regret the things you didn’t dare to do. Life is full of ups and downs, the mundane and the extraordinary. Be grateful for it all. Because even in the lows of life, there are precious lessons we are left with. Someday you will look back at today as a defining moment. The day you faced your greatest fear and you learned that happiness isn’t defined by how much money you make. It’s defined by how you chose to live your life. Whatever you do – choose wisely.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go, to know when you are no longer being effective or being heard. Oftentimes, there’s someone else quite capable of taking the baton and succeeding at whatever it is you are trying to do. Whether you are trying to convince a child to eat their vegetables, or convince a donor to give money, negotiate a deal, or settle a dispute – we miss the cues. When a person better equipped to do whatever it is you are trying to do raises their hand and asks for the baton – we resist passing it. We would rather sacrifice success than to do it. Is it pride, is it our competitiveness to win, is it the way we are wired to think about our abilities?
Sometimes, we overestimate ourselves and what we can do. If we only take a step back to reconsider the circumstances, we may find that we could use the help of someone else. Asking someone else to step in and take over shouldn’t be seen as a set-back or a personal failure, but rather a strength. The ability to do that may be the missing ingredient to getting it done, to solving the problem, and to ultimately succeeding in life. Success is rarely a one person sport.
Having Mac and cheese as a kid is a treat. Having Mac and cheese as an adult is borderline sinful. So when I took my daughter and her fiancé out for dinner at the Waverly Inn in the West Village and we saw Mac and cheese on the menu we went nuts. The 3 of us read the menu, each of us explaining the virtues of eating healthy fish and veggies. We then went into a diatribe of rationalizing eating the burger and the French fries, including explaining to each other why eating meat might be healthy for us. We finally landed on the Mac and cheese with white truffle. To help us decide, we called the waiter over and asked him for his opinion. He told us it was out of this world. ‘It’s an amazing experience. It’s made with four cheeses and generously sprinkled with white truffle for the price of $165/person.’ Oh my’, we responded. It would be silly not to get the Mac and cheese even at that price.’ My oldest daughter was mortified. ‘Mom’,no one in their right mind would pay that kind of money for Mac and cheese.’ ‘We totally should’, her fiancé and I responded. And we kept it up.
For a moment, we both gave in and agreed that Mac and cheese couldn’t possibly be good for your health or your wallet, but we quickly gave into our previous conviction that it was. We firmly committed ourselves to how good the Mac and cheese tasted when we were kids and that if the Waverly Inn served it, it had to be the best Mac and cheese in the world. The more the three of us argued, the more committed her fiancé and I became. So we got the Mac and cheese and we split it between the 2 of us. We explained to my daughter, ‘it is out of this world’ and convinced her to try it. It was so rich, we were both completely full by our 5th bite but we kept eating, and eating, and eating.
After all, we had convinced ourselves to get it and it was to die for, so who wouldn’t want to eat every last Mac? We walked back to their apartment that night in Chelsea and somewhere between the first and second block we both confessed that we in fact had stomach pain. We had had our fill of the Mac and cheese. Why didn’t we stop eating it when we knew we had enough? Why did we have to eat every last Mac and truffle? Why did we not show some sense of self-control? We came to several conclusions. Firstly, we had to eat all of it because we had to be consistent with what we had to committed to. Not to eat every last drop would have conflicted with what we said. Sometimes we continue to do something that isn’t good for us simply because we committed that we would do it. Even when deep inside of us we know we should stop – we don’t, because we want to ‘save face’ or we don’t want to hear anyone say ‘l told you so.’
Secondly, there are certain circumstances when too much of a really good thing isn’t good for you. That’s when having self-control and having the courage to say ‘I’ve had enough’ – it’s time to stop doing this’ is important. Lastly, remember that life experiences are priceless. So when you ask yourself, who in their right mind would pay $165 for a plate of Mac and cheese? We did– and we learned a valuable lesson that we’re still talking about it.