You need not operate off of a script. Instead, train your mind. When I was a young NCO, I used to ask myself, when confronted with bad news or an angry individual, “Will this matter in five seconds? Five minutes? Five days?”
The questions gave me space to think before I reacted. This had a couple of positive side effects:
It let me give a measured reaction.
It developed a reputation as unflappable.
You don’t need to know what to do in every circumstance. You just need to know you can adapt. Develop your mantra, think before you react.
In his text, he speaks about a zero day being a day in which you didn’t make an effort to advance your personal goals (paraphrased). If you find yourself at 11:55 PM one night, not having done anything you’d qualify as advancing a goal, then get it done.
“I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” – Plutarch
When I was a young NCO, first leading Airmen, I used to practice a framework of sorts. Whenever I heard bad news, I would internally ask myself, “Will this matter in 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days?”
Externally, I kept my composure while asking this question, then I would respond as I felt the situation dictated, or not if I felt that was the best response. It had it’s pros (a reputation as unflappable) and cons (one of my Airman observed once – quite angrily) that I was a “damn robot!”
In our social media driven, instant communication world, do you have a framework?
I submit to you that a calm mind is far more powerful.
As I read this passage today in The Daily Stoic, I was reminded of a moment a couple of months ago during a sparring exercise with another Krav Maga student. As we engaged in our battle of OODA loops, he landed a good blow upon my person, which…engaged…a predictably angry response internally, to the point where I nearly threw out all training and wanted to brawl.
In that moment, I exposed myself to additional potential attacks from my calmer opponent.
It was only when I asserted the calm state internally, remembered my stance and that I knew what I was doing and was capable of, that I was able to defend against further attacks and, in fact, land a solid blow upon his person.
Of course, Aurelius’ words apply to more than physical combat. Calm minds plan and execute better decisions in business and life, too.
In our 24/7/365 soundbite world, where millisecond pauses are registered on the book of Face and then used to deliver tailored content to a product (because we aren’t users, we are their product), it may be that we have lost something of ourselves.
We have at our fingertips the greatest information distribution system the world has ever known. Yet, we seem to be increasingly in an age of distrust for expertise (a generous characterization). We seem to be in an age where “my ignorance is as good as your expertise” is becoming commonplace.
Here’s the thing: that’s false. Let’s slow down and push for a deeper understanding, in all things.
If we don’t push for a deeper understanding of the world around us, from the physical sciences to the arts to, well, everything, then…what’s the point of it all?
One of the goals of this blog…one of the goals I have, rather, concerning the blog is to make a daily post part of my battle rhythm. As you can tell scrolling through the history of the posts, I’m not successful in this yet.
To that end, along with wanting to work on the practice of Stoicism, I’m reading The Daily Stoic this year, one page a day. It’s a collection of a year’s worth of “meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living.” Accordingly, I’m going to TRY to make a daily post in line with my thoughts on the daily mediation.
Today, Holiday writes about education being freedom. Why do we pursue knowledge? Holiday writes that such knowledge – “self knowledge in particular – is freedom.”
What does this mean?
If, in the end, we are simply the stuff of stars, why bother pursuing education?
I do, because it provides me a sense of meaning, in addition to being a father.
We all make mistakes. We are but human. When we do, I think the three steps above are the starting point for addressing the mistake and trying to rebuild the damaged trust.
I know that when I make a mistake, for me #3 – forgive yourself – is the hardest. I often cannot move past a mistake mentally unless the person against whom I have transgressed offers forgiveness or at least acknowledgement that I offered an apology.
From a business perspective, I would offer that there is a step 4. Actually, as I type this I realize this is both a personal and business step (given the nature of this blog, I automatically started to step through a business process / checklist). That is: figure out how to prevent such an error as caused the mistake from happening again.
As a businessperson, maybe this evaluating the process you were going through and adding a step to a checklist. As a human, this is engaging in introspection and perhaps asking yourself, “How did I wrong this person? Is this something I can change about myself or the way I conduct myself?”
I would offer that the very concept that spawned this blog – the 10th man concept – is itself a process aimed at preventing errors. Essentially, the job of the 10th man in an organization is to argue against the boss’ decisions, regardless of how they really feel about it. In this process, the thought is that it enables the boss make better decisions.
I don’t offer definitive answers here, only food for thought from one imperfect human.