Winning and losing. Success and failure. We view outcomes as absolutes. Success on a goal does not define future success. Failure to accomplish a goal does not make you a failure. There is always another opportunity, and that outcome will have its own set of unintended consequences. All you can do is control what you can.
This is an old parable about a Farmer that provides a unique perspective to this concept…
Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Perhaps,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “What great luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Perhaps,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy for his misfortune.
“Perhaps,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Perhaps,” said the farmer.
It would have been easy for the Farmer to feel sorry for himself. It would have been equally easy for the Farmer to become complacent with his great luck. Nobody would have blamed him.
The farmer understood that life keeps going. Either way, win or setback, it wasn’t “the end”.
Practice patience and perspective. Focus on your process even more so than your goals. Goals are temporary and fleeting. There is always another goal to reach or mountain to climb. Your process transfers and endures. We define your process as the sum of your purpose, values and habits. It’s how you solve problems, approach goals and live your life. We’re constantly evolving our personal processes based on what we learn and how we feel.
The next time you feel the urge to rush to judgment, reflect on your process and keep moving forward. What did you learn from your previous outcome and how can you evolve?
Your next setback may just redirect you to your next great opportunity.
February 24, 2023