Rough Seas Ahead – Part 2 of a series of 4

by Daniel O’shea

Re-frame Your Outlook
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
—Marcus Aurelius

One group of people that I have often drawn strength from are long-dead philosophers. They make great company! I am particularly fond of this quote and I believe it is apt to ruminate upon now. My own interpretation is that it urges us to use every piece of resistance as an opportunity for growth and opines that any obstacle to our success, which oftentimes turns out to be theoretical, is not a speed bump to endure but an opportunity for us to improve and learn. Essentially, what you perceive as a hindrance may in fact be a pretext for development. Many of Aurelius’ quotes relate to the power of mind over matter and perspective. Arduous times offer us the greatest opportunity to test and adjust our perceptions – to try and think more objectively.
Change is inevitable for all of us and this is a good thing; staying the same can lead to complacency and allows us to drift towards autopilot. Consider that perhaps some of the hardships we are currently facing are not our misfortune to endure, but rather our opportunity to shine, bear up worthily, and to thrive.
However, as the British military often declares – no plan survives first contact. Whilst courageously persevering and striving to succeed, we must also give ourselves permission to fail. Failing forwards is an essential part of growth. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from one failure to the next without losing enthusiasm”. Risk-averse employees may seldom fail, but they may also struggle to innovate.
To be courageous means you will have failures. The more courageous you are, the bigger your failings will be – it’s math. Risk tolerance will be dependent upon profession, some vocations will tolerate greater risks than others, nevertheless failure is the best opportunity for growth. Mistakes are an inevitable consequence of trying new things and of originality. Pixar’s former president Ed Catmull advocates for failing early and failing fast.
Aurelius would have added that we should focus on our efforts not our outcomes, be they failures or successes. Of course, we should learn what we can, but we should be less results orientated and more fixated on what we can control – on our own actions. Ruminate not upon expectations – but on intentions.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
—Marcus Aurelius

Key Takeaway
Re-frame your outlook. Objectively observe rather than subjectively perceive. Tie yourself to your efforts, not your outcomes. Fail fast and fail often. Replace expectations with noble intentions.

Part 3: Upgrade your attitude.
You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. Find satisfaction in dissatisfaction, certainty in uncertainty, stability in flux. Create purpose and practice gratitude.
Part 4: Connect with and support others.
Every day is a new opportunity to begin again; to do better. Have a greater concern for others’ well-being whilst investing in yourself. Develop an empathy reflex.

“To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands unmoved and the rage of the sea falls still around it.”
—Marcus Aurelius

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