Monday 11 April 2022

Thought Picnic: Knowing where you are from where you imagine you are

Cool this thing down

I remember attending an interview decades ago for a role that honestly paid peanuts with the European Space Agency, it was nothing as promising as if I were invited to work or even do an internship at NASA, the two men in weather-worn suits probably blasted too many times by solar flares and moon dust posed questions to which I responded earnestly and knowledgeably, but I somehow did not impress them.

When the agency got back to me, the report was, I was too laid back, I think I saw that more as a compliment than a criticism, my thinking was, if I was involved in putting a rocket under someone to send them out to space, we need cool heads, not hotheads. In fact, I take pride in being professionally laid back and that does not mean being lazy.

Easy on the busy

I just do not like to be carried away by the clamour and the tumult that surrounds issues, problems, or emergencies at work. We need to be able to stand back to see what is going on, gather our thoughts and methodically approach the issue. After applying ourselves for a full day at work, I would rather we return early the next day after a good break with fresh heads and ideas, beavering away overnight is the stuff of diminishing returns. Lots of activity and no achievement.

It is probably a temperament thing, usually observed at work, but applicable to other areas of my life, I can anticipate, but I do not fret; I could be concerned, but refrain from worrying; when it seems, a situation is getting too much, I would go to bed instead and sleep it over. The things I can control I apply myself to, and the things I at the time am clueless about, I can accept as my contemporaneous incapacity or infirmity, if things change for the better, that is fine, otherwise, we move on.

You are where you are

I guess the way I view things is only to cross the bridge when I am at the bridge, if I am still on the journey to the bridge, there might be circumstances where, in encounter or in realisation, the bridge is just one option out of many to choose from, in which case, it might be easier to ford, to swim, or to ferry, you might even avoid having to cross any obstacle to your destination. You have to know where you are from where you imagine or fear you are.

We are given the moment with all the vicissitudes of life and uncertainty to already deal with, success and progress with that particular moment can determine how well the rest of your journey goes. Like in the game of chess, much as you can think 10 moves ahead, you cannot play the 10 moves in a go.

Be ready and able to change tack

You have to play your move and your opponent play theirs, their move might not have been accounted for in your analysis and then you have to recalibrate the whole strategy you have towards winning the game in which you might well get beaten, no matter how good your imagined 10 moves ahead were.

This applies to many things in life, for the preparation, anticipation, and orderliness in the things we have planned, we need to make allowances for sudden or progressive alterations that could be quite impactful and outside our control. This is not to say we are then helpless against fate, not by the kind of intellect, initiative, and intuitiveness that we have been gifted, we are adaptable, applying ourselves with a good understanding of when a scalpel, a blade, a knife, or a sword is needed.

That is a skill that comes from learning, experience, expertise, mentoring, or just sheer luck, it does not matter, we keep living because we are living and, in the process, write a better story of how we have lived. Selah!

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