Last week, I started sharing lessons from my experience in what could be considered a highly stressful environment.
I described it as a place where:
- My work directly affected the financial metrics of the company.
- I had to become an expert in something everyone was doing for the first time.
- I had to explain actuarial concepts to people of different backgrounds. And,
- I was learning and being challenged daily.
Part of my demise was propelled by a thought I had often: “I started believing that everything was important.”
Let’s explore this statement in reverse.
First, is the word “important”. The dictionary defines it as “…something of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.”
Answer these questions for me:
- When’s the last time you really worried about survival?
- When’s the last time you had to fight a lion for food?
- When’s the last time you had to roam the earth to find a safe place to sleep?
This gives my story a different perspective.
Second, the word “everything” Was it really reasonable for me to say EVERYTHING is important? I mean, we all “KNOW” that if everything is important then nothing is!
Third, the key section, the phrase “started believing”. Yes, believe…the acceptance of something as true.
Putting it all back together.
I accepted as truth that everything I worked on, got ask to do, and thought to be a problem was something of great significance and had a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.”
In other words, I was basically saying everything was a life or death situation. Isn’t that ridiculous?
The implication of this believe? It’s kind of difficult to stay calmed and in control when everything is do or die!
My point is… Nothing, absolutely nothing, is important unless I make it so.
When I look back at the facts and objectively think about it, I quickly realize that not everything was important. For example,
- Countless hours of mandatory meetings with plenty of chatter and didn’t produce any results.
- Many projects I worked through the night and did not get used, got overruled the next day.
- There were plenty of projects I worked hard on to reach an accelerated deadline but had to redo because someone changed their mind.
- Projects in which I couldn’t afford to miss the deadline but I could afford finding time later to fix a mistake?
I have to ask,
- Were those projects really important when the department as a whole could afford ignoring them, change deadlines, or overrule the findings?
- Were those meetings of significant value and profound effect to the success, survival, or well-being of the company when we could afford having dozens of people tide up in a room for hours and not produce anything of use?
The truth is I CHOSE TO BELIEVE, for whatever reason, that everything was for the success, survival, or well-being of the company.
The lesson: We can actively choose what’s important or not to us.