Published In C&K Magazine: Vol. #2 – Issue #1 – Date: 2007
The cops arrived at the front door of the college fraternity house around 10:00 PM.
They were looking for its president. It was a warm fall evening that often makes the Northeastern United States a wonderful place to be. The post football game party was going full throttle. Beer was flowing and apparently sparks from the flames of the backyard pig roast had gotten the neighbors’ attention. It was 1979, the sparks had reached the second story, and the fraternity president was yours truly.
Oh, well, live and learn. The police politely asked us to put the fire out and we complied. One simple (but too large) fire and it was quickly extinguished. Ahhh…but what if in the wisdom of our youth we had decided to have a dozen or so roasts going at the same time. This then becomes a little different matter, more than likely a forest fire. At some mathematical point between 1 and 12, solving the problem of controlling and then eventually putting out the fires becomes impossible. This leads us to our quandary. One of the most common problems that entrepreneurs must do battle with is their own need to control everything. Half a dozen to dozen problems (fires) going at the same time is not rare. Sound familiar? Trying to control more than you can; leads to burnout, anger and often regret. And if you, in the wisdom of YOUR years, are saying … “yeah but”… you are no doubt a business owner. Welcome! The good news is there is hope. Let’s continue with our fire analogy. Have you ever really considered that some fires, left to their own means, will burn themselves out? This might be hard to believe but it is true. These are problems that you may have no influence over, or they may be too large at first to properly handle. If you actually visualize fires burning, it may help you understand that YOU can only be stretched so far. We are discussing much more than mere prioritization. The battle is not whether an item is an “A, B or C” priority. You and I know that EVERYTHING is an “A” priority. Our goal is to take this to a deeper level that translates to peace of mind.
I have been told that in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) the Serenity Prayer is used for just this type of purpose. Even if you are not religious, choosing to eliminate the term God can make this a viable tool. So let’s give it a shot…”grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
If you use both these tools, the visualization of multiple fires and the Serenity Prayer, perhaps you can focus better on those issues that are most important. You may also be more prepared to run the race of life, which after all is a marathon, not a sprint.