A quick little story:
At one point this week, I got stuck on a subway car that was going nowhere fast.
We’d been cruising along as usual, when suddenly the train slowed. And slowed. And came to a very full stop.
I’m used to these moments on the New York City subway system. Short stops are common, but really long delays tend to be relatively unusual.
This was a lengthy standstill. Even worse, we were stuck in a spot where my phone had no service, and I was on my way to something work related. I couldn’t call or shoot off an email to say that I was delayed.
I tapped my foot furiously and checked my phone frantically to see if lo and behold, there would be a couple bars.
I sighed and fidgeted and kept my ears peeled for an announcement from the conductor.
Not surprisingly, my impatience did not actually get the train moving.
At a certain point, I realized that there was nothing—nothing—that I could do about the situation. I took a deep breath and thought, “let go.”
I started listening to some music. I relaxed in my seat. I told myself that the train would get moving sooner or later—they always do—and that I just had to find a way to make the best of it in the meantime.
By the time the train started moving again, I was actually relatively calm. I was enjoying listening to a piece of music I hadn’t heard in a while. And I’d taken a few minutes to draft an email that I knew I’d need to send later that day.
Yes, it was annoying to be late for a meeting, but the world did not fall apart as a result. Everyone in New York understands that train delays happen and are nobody’s fault.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this: sometimes, we just have to surrender to whatever’s going on.
As the week went by, I allowed my subway ride to be a memorable lesson.
It was a week full of work challenges, mixed with some personal frustrations. I couldn’t help getting worked up periodically, but each time I did, I forced myself to stop, breathe, and unclench.
Inevitably, the willingness to let go resulted in my being more able to handle things. Solutions never present themselves to me when I’m anxious or frantic; they only visit when I’m clearheaded and grounded.
With that in mind, I’m entering this new week with a commitment to stay in that space of judicious surrender. I’ll remember that efforting, while important sometimes, has true limits. And letting go has its own special power.
I’m wishing you the right balance of effort and acceptance in the seven days ahead of us, friends. Happy Sunday eve.
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