We’re now halfway into 2013. Chances are good that you’ve already goofed up on something; or if not yet, soon will. That’s not a prediction of doom, but simply a statement of probability. We all mess up. It’s a given. We stumble over a new year’s resolution. We miss an appointment, or renege on a promise. The question is: what do we do when we err?
Ethan set out to paint a small glass perfume bottle that sparkled on the window ledge in the studio. It did not go well. He sat back and evaluated, noting that his image did not look at all like the bottle. However, he could see the possibility of a bird, so he added feathers and legs to make it so. Once there was a bird in the picture, he added a tree trunk and branches, green leaves, red berries, a nest and eggs. Contemplating his pic so far, he remembered that squirrels like trees. So he set about adding a squirrel to the picture. It did not go well.
Once again, he sat back and took stock. What to do with a shapeless brown splotch? Inspiration arose. He would turn it into a slice of toast, as he knew from experience that birds like crumbs. He was sure it would all work out. And so it did!
I was amazed at his flexibility of mind and his ability to adapt to changing circumstances. No recriminations. No self-loathing about lack of skill. No tossing in the tools, giving up, or stomping away! Instead, he steadily focused on two questions. How now? And, what next?
Ethan’s approach was a perfect example of a stress reducing practice referred to as Accept & Adapt. When life goes sideways, Accept the truth of the circumstances in which you now find yourself. Don’t just plow straight ahead ignoring the new facts. Having Accepted what’s happened, choose a way to Adapt. Make the necessary adjustments to respond to the new reality.
Give A & A a try the next time something goes sideways in life or at work.
Adapted from Patricia Katz’ PAUSE newsletter available at: www.pauseworks.com