“Hurry up and eat your breakfast. We’re running late and you’re going to miss your bus! Don’t look at me like that, young lady, there’s nothing wrong with that oatmeal, now eat it and let’s get moving!”
Ah, the hectic first days of getting the kids back into the school routine. Honestly, I don’t miss it for the most part, but on another level I do. There is something exhilarating and invigorating about a long-anticipated change that causes us to finally depart the quiet harbors of our preparation.
With the shifting winds of change come questions that seem too familiar; ones we’ve asked ourselves in the past but whose answers always seem to be just slightly out of reach, shrouded in the fog of the unknown. What will the days ahead bring, we ponder? What new shores will we explore? What new storms will blow our way and how will we handle them?
Will we prove ourselves to be able-bodied seamen standing side-by-side, all hands on deck ready to laugh in the face of the gale? Or will we find ourselves achingly longing for calm seas and fair winds astern that promise to drive us inexorably to that far shore because the typhoon that just hit us amidships threatens to capsize our little ship and send us all to Davy Jones’ locker?
By and large, I believe that as humans we long for stability and predictability, though to widely varying degrees. For some of us, the adventure of launching out into unchartered territory is, indeed, exciting and life-giving. For others, those days become filled with dark anxiety and a fear of the unknown that seeks to keep them tied securely to the old ways, the old days, and the old means.
I would venture to guess that most of us live somewhere in-between, in a place that is sometimes chaotic and blustery, but can also be warm, peaceful, and predictable. Maybe even boring. And we’re good with that because the peace allows us to enjoy the journey, while the chaos reminds us that we are still alive!
Could it be that we are meant to “enjoy” the chaos just as much as the calm? Could it be that we learn more about ourselves and about the ones we surround ourselves with when we travel through the storm together than we do when the sun is shining and the breeze is soft on our cheeks?
I recall a quote that is attributed to the late President John F. Kennedy during his State of the Nation address on Jan. 11, 1962:
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” not when it’s raining.
How are you and I using our time when the sun is shining? Certainly we need to refresh, regroup, reinvigorate, rest, and recuperate in those times, but if that’s all we do, when the next storm hits – as it surely will – we are less likely to be ready for it.
Life is full of sun and rain, storm and calm, peace and chaos. We can work with it or struggle against it. To “go with the flow” isn’t about giving up to unconquerable and unfathomable forces. I believe it’s about learning to work with and through the challenges and the pressures that jostle us from one transition point in life’s journey to the next. It’s also about coming to grips with the reality that we can’t control anything or anyone outside of ourselves, and learning to be at peace with ourselves and those around us.
In the end, it always boils down to having to make a simple but often profoundly difficult choice: to take personal responsibility for what we do, where we are, and who we will become.
Take time to take care of yourself so you can be there to care for the ones you love. I’m not saying to be more self-indulgent (that already seems to be an epidemic in our society today). I’m saying be good to yourself by taking care of your health and your relationships, because some day all that will be left will be your relationships. I dare say the most precious ones will be those with whom you’ve weathered life’s storms.
Choose forgiveness over resentment, exercise over the lure of the couch, laughter over guilt, and love over hate. Seek to do the right thing, not because it’s popular (it rarely is), but because it’s the right thing to do in spite of what’s popular.
Best wishes and fair sailing ahead!
John Trombley is The Village Business Institute’s Consulting & Training Manager and also serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 18 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.