These days, with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the disruption of the lives of many New Yorkers, it is easy to feel powerless. Things have happened that are out of our control, and it feels like very little is secure.
I sit in my office -- a place that I had dominion over -- and now I can not rely on consistent power. My computer crashed a few days ago, the power was turned off once again so that a more permanent solution can be found, but when it came back on my phone lines were down. I noticed that I am surprisingly calm; if the same things had happened a few weeks ago, I would be agitated.
I watch myself taking action and doing what I can do -- calling the techie to get the recovery disc that I need, making phone calls to confirm appointments for the week (which I vaguely remember), and then I let go. Maybe it is the calm after the storm. But why should I agitate over things I can't control? I think I understand what the Serenity Prayer is about: "Accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
What were the things that kept me positive when I was out of power for a few weeks and traveling from place to place with my 22-year-old son? Maybe you have experienced some of these:
Knowing that I was not alone. I had friends to reach out to, and other people had it much worse than I. None of my property was devastated.
An office can be truly virtual. There were days that I operated from different locations -- all I really needed was a cell phone and my laptop, and business was as usual. Many corporations have virtual work spaces, but that wasn't something I had experienced before for an extended period.
I really had to work on my attitude to stay positive -- yes, there were times I felt down, but I wasn't going to stay that way. Looking at what I had to be grateful for kept me taking the high road.
There was a real benefit in stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way. It felt like my DNA was being reassembled. I have always thought of New York City as my home and work headquarters. But now I am more open to exploring other venues. And although excelling in my career has always been important to me, I am also craving more time with friends and a special someone who I have yet to meet.
Everything that happens in life is for my growth. Some very wise people have taught me that and it helped to think this way during challenging times.
How easy is it for you to let go when you feel powerless and frustrated?
For more by Helene Lerner, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.