“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are you waiting for the economy to change? Are you waiting for your job to change? Are you waiting for the weather to change? Don’t wait. Work with what you’ve got.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of playing the waiting game. Especially if it’s a situation you don’t like. The problem is, while you wait, the world passes you by. It keeps moving forward. When you “just wait and see,” it takes your power away. For example, I fell into the trap of waiting for my weather to turn back to the way it used to be. It’s a new reality now. The best way for me to make the most of it, is to embrace the change — rather than ignore it, dismiss it, or wait for it to change back.
Life’s better when you don’t wait for the facts to change. You improve your effectiveness when you respond to life’s curve balls. You also improve your resilience and self-reliance. You also create new opportunities. One of my favorite metaphors here from sports is, “You play the ball, or the ball plays you.”
In the book, Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It, Marshall Goldsmith writes about how we should not wait for the facts to change, and should instead play the cards we have in hand, based on the reality of our situation. If nothing else, it helps us take advantage of whatever situation we are in.
What We Learn from Lawyers
You can’t wait for the facts to change. You need to work with what you’ve got. Marshall writes:
“A big part of our training as lawyers,’ Tom said, ‘was to interpret a pattern of facts so that we could advise a client. Our teacher would give us a hypothetical set of facts and then go around the classroom asking, ‘What would you do?” Every student would respond with a course of action. The answers weren’t always correct or even reasonably intelligent. Sometimes they were desperate. But the students always came up with some rationale, some idea to act on. At no point in these classroom exercises did any of my classmates say, ‘I’m going to wait until the classroom changes.'”
Act More, Wait Less
Waiting leads to underacting. Marshall writes:
“When people wait for discomforting facts to change into something more to their liking, they’re basically engaging in wishful thinking. It’s the opposite of over-committing because it leads to under-acting (or under-committing and not acting at all). Instead of doing something, you’re frozen in place while you wait for a more comfortable set of facts to appear. In s world that’s constantly rushing forward, this is asking to moving backward,. That’s a Mojo killer.”
Carve a New Path
Assume the facts won’t change. Find a a way to make the most of your new situation. Marshall writes:
“When the facts are not to your liking, ask yourself, ‘What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?’ Then get ready to do that. If the world changes in your favor, you haven’t lost anything. If the facts do change, you are more ready to face the new world.”
If there’s something you’ve been waiting for, maybe your wait is finally over. Carpe diem.
Best Books on Taking Action
- Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life, by J.D. Meier
- Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It, Marshall Goldsmith
- The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz