As I often do, I made a social media post which was intended to remind people of their power to control their responses to their world. In this case, the post was “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The intent of the sentiment is that we cannot prevent painful things from happening to us, but we can choose our response to it and whether we choose to suffer in that pain or deal with it in other ways.
Some people were inspired by this post and others were offended. I was hurt by their taking offense. I understood that those who were upset read the words through the lens of their experience and took a different meaning from that which was intended. What it took some time to recognize was the source of my own pain at the misunderstanding.
In a few hours, it will go from 2020-12-31 23:59:59 to 2021-01-01 00:00:00.
Balls will drop! Champaign will be consumed! Dates will be kissed!
Nothing magical will happen.
If you don’t believe me, ask someone in Sacramento who will still be waiting another three hours for their New Year.
There is nothing magical about flipping a page on a calendar. When you wake up on the 1st, there will still be a pandemic. There will still be high unemployment. There will still be political turmoil.
None of those things change with the simple turning of the page. All of them require work. The work of scientists. The work of leaders. The work of everyday people to wear their masks and act like responsible people who care about their neighbors.
There is no magic.
Or maybe the magic has already happened. Maybe it happened in March and we didn’t all realize it.
In March, everything was thrown into confusion. The table we were playing the game on was flipped over. Many of us are looking at the mess and lamenting that they can’t do anything with the pieces on the floor.
But some of us are looking at it and seeing that we now have the chance to play an entirely new game. It is in these moments when the greatest opportunities come to us.
For as long as I can remember, I have been bringing people together and building community. In high school, I hosted our parties and planned our outings. In college, I ran conventions. After college I opened Phoenix Games to be a center of community. In my 30s I worked at all manner of genre events.
But 2020 brought an opportunity like I’d never seen before. The quarantine forced everyone to discover the potential of virtual space. Virtual networking, virtual communities, virtual conferences, once the realm of a cutting edge few are now possible for the mainstream.
With lower overhead and completely obviating the effect of geography, it is possible to bring together amazing talent and hundreds of attendees together for pennies.
From this, I was able to create Conference21. It is not just a place to help people learn from 32 experts, but it’s a place to create a new kind of community. A community that defies borders, that ignores geography. It is a community that anyone can become a part of if it is right for them.
We are able to use these new technologies to create networking events before and after the conference that are almost like being face to face.
None of these technologies are actually new. They existed in 2019.
What changed in March was that we became open to them.
“Have you ever shown up for a meeting in your bare feet?” they asked as they showed a Zoom-like video conference.
This technology became commonly available years ago, but most people prior to 2020 had never participated in a virtual meeting.
In 2020, AT&T’s predictions, which had been technically accurate for years, became socially accurate. Virtual meetings, distance learning, and all the rest became part of all of our lives.
The promise of the future is here, and we are all ready to embrace it.
There is no magic in the turning of the calendar, but there can be great magic in uncertain times. Uncertainty means you don’t know how it will turn out. That can be a bad thing, but it can also be a very good thing, especially if you weren’t winning beforehand.
All the pieces are now up in the air. You have a choice. You can let them clatter to the ground, or you can grab some and find your new future.
Have you ever seized your own new opportunities?
And the company that will bring it to you… is you.
Michael Whitehouse knows all about games, having owned a game store for many years. He has never heard of a board game that can still be played after the table is flipped, but it’s a good metaphor anyway.
If you’d like to hear more strained metaphors or discuss how you might make your own magic in 2021, click here to schedule a free half hour coaching session with Michael.
There is a certain area of coaching that teaches that your worth is determined by net worth. They tell you that if you don’t have a $10,000 offer, you ain’t nothing. If you’re not bringing in $20,000 a month, you’re a failure.
This mindset derailed my business off of a successful growth path into the doldrums.
How do you see yourself? What is your self perception?
The other day, I had someone approach me looking for assertiveness training. They felt that they did not stand up for themselves enough, and that people were able to walk all over them.
As it turned out, the lack of assertiveness was not the problem. It was the symptom of the problem.
The problem was that this person saw themselves as a person whose voice did not deserve to be heard. They did not see themselves as a person who had value to give to the world.
They did not believe they were worth the space they took up in the world.
I told them that assertiveness training would not be effective because it would be an act. It would not be authentic. They could not stand up for themselves because they did not believe they should.
All the training in the world would not help because it would feel like a lie, and the same subconsious block would prevent them from acting on the training as was already preventing them from saying what they should.
Rather than paper over the problem with technique, this person needs to delve deep into the causes of their insecurity. They need to sit with themselves to understand the purpose that they were placed on Earth for.
Every one of us is given a particular set of gifts: skills, talents, desires, ambitions, perceptions. These gifts give us the power and potential to be great, to affect the world in great ways, to make a difference.
Since we are given these gifts, we have the obligation to use them and to live in our greatness. To do otherwise would be to spurn God’s generous gifts to us.
So, how do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as one who is blessed by your creator with amazing gifts and an important mission? Or do you not see that?
And what are your gifts? What greatness are you placed on this Earth to achieve?