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Wrong Number

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Last night at midnight I was sound asleep. Then the phone rang. Within seconds I had picked up the receiver and determined it was a wrong number. But now I was wide awake.

Since I had to be up early this morning, I started fretting. I worried that I would not fall back to sleep - which worry, of course, was contributing to my not being able to fall back to sleep. Thankfully, I was able to put the wrong-number irritation out of my mind and fall back to sleep.

A year ago a friend of mine, the CEO of a large company, had hip surgery. After four months of rehabilitation he was pretty much back to normal. Then he got what he thought was the flu. High fever. Lots of aches. The doctors were stumped until they realized that what he actually had was a staph infection caused by his hip replacement. His new hip had to come out.

So, more surgery. Old hip out and three months of a spacer (place holder) in his hip while the staph infection was addressed. Then, new surgery to put in a new hip. Then four more months of rehab.

I went to visit him several times when he was recovering from the surgery removing his first hip. Days earlier he thought his hip replacement ordeal was over and now he was facing 3 months of antibiotics (no walking), and then new surgery.

Me: "Aren't you upset?"

Him: "Well, I wish it would not have happened but what's the point of being upset? I want to put all my energy into getting back to healthy as soon as possible. Don't want to waste a second on the past."

Wow, I thought to myself. That is a great attitude. I imagined myself moaning and groaning if I was going through what he was.

But this guy did not complain ... not at all. Maybe that explains in part how he made it to the top of the corporate world. By the way, this man flunked out of college, worked as a plumber for a couple of years, then went back to college, got an accounting degree, and worked his way up the corporate ladder from the lowest rung.

There is definitely a skill to putting negativism out of our mind and dealing with the future only. My CEO friend went through about 8 months of surgery and rehab that was caused by the staph. And yet he never looked back.

The great martial artist, Bruce Lee, used to write down negative thoughts on a piece of paper. Then he would light the paper on fire. Once the paper burned, no more negative thoughts. I am going to try that next time I get an errant phone call.

Jim Randel is the founder of The Skinny On book series. His latest book, The Skinny on Success: Why Not You? has been endorsed by a wide-range of business executives.