I know my mind sometimes does weird little divergent twists – often following rabbits down holes so deep that the pressure builds up in my ears and my head starts hurting. Today I was following a mouse. It had to do with what happens to so many of my day’s plans, stuff gets added, subtracted and tasks get multiplied. Really this is not cause for stress, but it sometimes causes stress, and I am not alone in this. It is one of the top stressors with many of the executives and entrepreneurs I coach. I spend a lot of time talking about being prepared instead of just having a plan, and I often say “The best-laid plans often go astray”… And for me today, that saying was the beginning of a mouse hunt.
The saying really is “The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley” which in modern English roughly translates to “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray”. This is from a poem To a Mouse by Robert Burns who was a Scottish poet. Yes, my mouse hunt started with Google and had me reading the whole poem. It is a clever little poem about how a man disturbed a mouse that was in its warm little nest, obviously planning to make a nice stay at it, unfortunately for the mouse, that wasn’t going to happen.
The point is, that plans go astray. There are things we don’t think about, or maybe we have, but then something new comes along, it seems like chaos. There is even a theory called the Chaos Theory, which always reminds me of a joke “if you plan for the unexpected, isn’t then the unexpected actually expected?” So my point is that mathematically even, that there are things that go astray, and these have to go with the truth that everything is in motion, and there are effects for each motion made. It is not the results that matter so much as the motion because results will go astray at times, but if you allow for statistical chaos, then why worry?
How can we put this into our business life or life in general to belay our fears and stress? As I was talking to a friend about this, he said “Shit happens” – I literally laughed out loud at that, because that summed it up perfectly. Stuff that is astray from our plans will always find a way in because we don’t live in a vacuum, the world is in constant motion, which is a good thing. Motion is life, and life gets messy at times, but that means it can be stressful as well. But stress is good, to a point, until the stress is then classified as distressed – then that is too much. At which point it is good to De-Stress by relieving some the stress level (not all – you never have to wipe away stress altogether, which is sort of comforting in it’s revelation). I know it is not much, but just the knowledge that “shit happens”, or that no matter who you are, powerful leader, or a little mouse, your plans will at some point go astray. If you think about it, just the knowledge of that will allow you to let go of expectations of perfection which then allows for a bit of de-stressing in our lives.
John “Z” Zeydel – your PUSH coach – (who also is aware of your need to de-stress in your life)