When I was studying Chinese in Taiwan over two decades ago, one of the lessons related the story of the lead monk who had all sorts of events befall him.
I think the first had something to do about a wild horse that came upon his property; his neighbors exclaimed he was lucky.
The second event was something like his son was riding the horse and was thrown from it and broke his legs; his neighbors exclaimed he was unlucky.
The third event involved a military conscription in which his son was passed over because of his broken leg; his neighbors now exclaimed he was lucky.
Then there was a fourth event in which perhaps the invading army took his horse as a beast of burden to pack away many of his possessions as he and his family retreated to the woods and this did not occur to the neighbors; so, yes you guessed it his neighbors now exclaimed he was unlucky.
The story toggled back and forth like this for six or eight iterations. And to each the monk had one thing to say: “Whether it’s good luck or bad is impossible to tell.”
So, basically the monk went through life in a state of indifference.
This is better than going through life like the neighbors who place a conventional interpretation upon events as they occur, instead of standing outside of them and looking at them with dispassion as did the monk.
It’s certainly better than the persons stricken with “rectopticitus” – i.e. “a crappy outlook on life.” These folks tend to find the negative in everything.
But, the prize go to you when: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life. Their the facts of life.”
And then, like any good attorney whether those facts are “good or bad” you look at them both individually and in aggregate to see how they can be viewed in the best light for the client you represent … in this case you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers.
It all starts with having a positive attitude that radiates out.
At Christmas, Christians celebrate the fact that a family was able to put love at the top of the list when everything in society suggested that the appropriate thing would be to fall back into fear.
Love just does that. In our work we are often times advised to love what you do and everything else will fall into place.
Well that is a better approach than to hate your work! But, just enjoying your work doesn’t quite get you there. Your “neighbor” has to love it too.
Think if business was composed generally of Win/Lose transactions – the equivalent here of the Love/Hate – which one witness in boundary dispute law.
People love their own thing, but if nobody else does, or worse they actually take offense at that which you love, then there is no transaction … right?
So in a roundabout way, isn’t the rule “love your neighbor as yourself” really one of the best pieces of business advice there is.
Both have something different and that difference can be shared across the line through transaction. Economics then is not a dismal science. Instead, it’s incredibly optimistic!
So, getting back to the monk … If you have fantastic relationships with your neighbors, you are truly blessed.
And, if your relationship with your neighbor is poor and you are in conflict … guess what, you are truly blessed again!
As the compound, Chinese word that comprises “crisis” – 危機 – is quite literally composed by the words “danger” – 危险 – and “opportunity” – 機會.
When you get to these points when on a downward trajectory, will you be able to pivot to make it only the nadir or will it become an inflection point that takes you further down?
Either can have benefit, so just learn from it, figure out the next goal, and work towards its attainment.
The only alternative course would be to live a life of indifference where you sit still as the world goes by.
When you know you can do a lot better than that and don’t, is there any chance you will be satisfied?
Of course not, so get after it. And count your blessings as you go. Cheers!