Sunday, 1 August 2010

Words of wisdom

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be."

Well, not exactly; I'm not a religious sort and although my mother *is* called Mary, it's not about her either, but I think there's a lot to be said for these wise words.

Life can be stressful and difficult and I wonder, wouldn't we be bored if it wasn't? But it's necessary to evaluate a situation and decide: Does it matter?

Small case in point, recently a colleague missed the check-in for her flight by only two minutes and called me in some distress from the airport. She was clearly very upset firstly because she feared she'd miss her meeting with her client and, secondly I imagine, because she knew it would cost the company a fair amount of money to rebook her non-flexible flight. I can fully understand her frustration; she had given herself plenty of time but the public transport had been unreliable resulting in her narrowly missing check-in. I've done this before, missed a train to see my family in Yorkshire by three minutes due to unreliable public transport, even though I'd given myself what should have been more than enough time. I was going through a difficult period of my life and I remember the sinking feeling as I saw the empty platform, the worry I felt that I wouldn't get to see my family and the annoyance at having to pay a small fortune for a replacement ticket for a later train. I stood in the station and cried with frustration and helplessness and imagine that's pretty much how my colleague felt standing on her own in the airport.

My train experience was five years ago and I drew on it to assist my distressed colleague. Within 15 minutes I had booked her onto a new flight leaving in a couple of hours and I also emailed her to say, "C'est la vie. Don't sweat it, nobody died. In five years you probably won't even remember. ;o)" I hope that helped her to relax about a situation that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't really matter. Yes, some money was wasted which is not ideal but it's a mere irritation and can be written off as "one of those things".

There are quite a few books telling us the same thing ("Don't sweat the small stuff" by Richard Carlson, and "F**k It: the Ultimate Spiritual Way" by John Parkin to name two) which for all intents and purposes teach us: When things seem a bit sh*t and out of your control, step back, put it into perspective and, where possible, just let it be.


  1. Great post! An old manager of mine used to say, "Did anyone die?" He was ex-army and had seen some bad stuff, so by comparison pretty much anything else was barely significant.

  2. Thanks, Rob, it's all relative, isn't it?

    I often hear people in the lift in my office building getting themselves worked up about the way things are being run in the company they work for and I want to say the same thing your old manager used to say!

    I do wonder if I would feel differently if these people worked in healthcare, though...