“A great many worries can be diminished by realizing the unimportance of the matters, which is causing anxiety. Our doings are not so important as we naturally suppose; our successes and failures do not after all matter very much. One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important and that to take a holiday would bring all kinds of disaster. If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important.” [Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness ]
Well, that was vintage Russel then. But is it not applicable even today ? Look at the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX Act) and its fallout. The other day, I was reading a comment on a blog on this draconian piece of law. It said “It used to look to me that SOX was a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. I’m wrong it looks more like a building demolition machine that swings a heavy iron ball. Worse still I’m now not sure if it is actually hitting the target. The target is still a valid one though, but the means to hit it clearly needs reappraisal.” How true ! It was indeed broadbrushed overreaction which led to SOX legislation.
Sometimes I think lack of faith leads to overreaction. For some, faith means maintaining a positive attitude in life. When Bill Cosby asked his father whether he sees the proverbial glass half full or half empty, his father replied, “It depends on whether you’re drinking or pouring”! Look how he made it seem so simple ! I have seen many veterans fumbling while answering it.
Some try changing the canvas to look and feel better. May be it could be the reason why successful corporate executives take to working for non-profits. Both For Profits and Non Profits are businesses with revenues, expenses, and a bottom line. Both have marketing, sales, finance, IT, HR, strategy, etc. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in Non Profits, their bottom line is *changed lives*–money is simply a means to that end. Its shareholders are the poor, and its donors are the ones who make it work.
Swapping perspectives help. Look at this riddle – “Why was the man staring at the carton of orange juice? Because it said “concentrate!” This riddle illustrates that there are connections which are not obvious at first but when we see the relatedness, other possibilities emerge. This can apply to life as well.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see other perspectives during times of adversity? I think a regular dose of humor can help us do that. What do you think ?