If worry could solve even one percent of the problems that we face daily, worrying may be perfectly justified as a global pastime. Yet while it is evident that a large mass of humanity worries most of its lifetime away, there is no evidence to suggest that worrying has been productive at all.
Worrying causes frustration and plunges you into a depressive spiral. Everything and everyone seems to be getting after you. One thing leads to another. And by the end of a destructive spell of worrying you are dealing with more crises than you originally had started off dealing with. Worrying comes free so everyone does that. But remember the problems it seeds are very, very expensive!
A business acquaintance, by sheer accident, introduced me to this learning. Several years ago, I was in Bengaluru on work. And I was running late for a meeting. The one I had just finished had ended badly. The client owed my Firm a substantial sum of money. We had been following up on our claim for over a year. We had been promised a resolution and payment at that meeting. But the client reneged, disputed the claim and refused to make any payment that day. The meeting ended sourly and in a stalemate. I was both angry and worried as I rode in the car for the next meeting. I was angry because what the client had done was unfair and unethical. I was worried because I had issued cheques to parties, who were long overdue for payment by us, in anticipation of this inflow. I did not know what I should do. In such time, I reached the venue of the next meeting. It was a large company. And they were prospecting my Firm for a potential service contract. I was late. So, I tried to rush the security guard at the registration desk. He didn’t seem to bother. I yelled at him. When I finally reached the reception area, I found the receptionist speaking on the phone. It appeared to me in a few minutes that she was on a personal call. I gestured to her that I was late for a meeting. She impatiently gestured back asking me to be seated. I scowled at her.
And the chatter in my mind went: “Damn! Why is everyone after me today? How am I supposed to pay off those vendors and meet the wage bill of my team with this inflow not coming through? I am now late for this meeting. And I am not likely to be making an impression with my presentation with this new prospect because I am both late and in a lousy frame of mind! Damn!”
Finally, I was ushered into an empty conference room. I hooked up my laptop and tested my slide deck on the screen. An executive in formal attire walked in. I did not look up at him. I wanted to avoid any polite conversation. I just wanted to present my Firm’s case and go back, perhaps, to worrying. The fire in my cash-flow was far more demanding of my attention than a potential business deal. I assumed the man was one of the members of the leadership team to whom I was to present that day. After setting up my deck, I looked away from the man. It didn’t occur to me that I was behaving like an oaf. I was consumed by my desire to drown in the seductive, ruinous comfort of my worry! I paced up and down the side of the conference room that I had occupied. The executive must have felt it bizarre that his guest was not even acknowledging his presence in his own office!
After what must have been several moments of silent gazing by him and a pretentious meditative pacing by me, he spoke up.
He asked me, in a cold, matter-of-fact, tone: “AVIS, do you always look so beaten, morose and wear this frown all the time?”
It appeared that a million-volt thunderbolt had hit me. I froze in my tracks. I turned around. Looked at the executive and sheepishly said: “Errr….Well…..I am sorry….I was preoccupied….Errrr….!”
He was in his mid-40s then and I was in my mid-30s. He appeared to be a nice bloke. He smiled and spoke calmly: “I can see that you are worried about something. And angry too with something. If you make this presentation carrying those two emotions, let me tell you, you will piss off everyone. I am already wondering why I am here when you are not here!”
I apologized. I thanked him. I walked across to his side. We exchanged business cards. I discovered he was the Head of Strategy and awarding my Firm the mandate, should we make the cut, was in his hands, apart from the CEO’s. I knew the CEO well. And that’s why I was there. I pulled myself from the brink that day, thanks to this gentleman’s unsolicited yet fortuitous intervention. The presentation went very, very well. And we bagged the contract!
But more than that, the value of the wisdom this man has imparted in me is priceless. He taught me, in a nano-second, how worrying can ruin a perfect moment pregnant with opportunity! He taught me the power of now! It took me several years of struggle, tears, pain and suffering, to internalize this learning. But if he had not sowed that seed that day, I would not have been able to tame the worry beast in my Life!
|Bob Marley 1945-1981|
I was reminded of this episode this morning as I read a story in the latest issue of OPEN magazine on Rohan Marley, the legendary Jamaican reggae singer, and Rastafarian, Bob Marley (1945-1981). Rohan, now 40, told OPEN that his father had taught all his many siblings to not just enjoy Life but to “fulljoy” it!
Think about it. How much of your precious living moments are you sacrificing on the altar of worry daily? How much of your time do you look beaten, morose and are wearing a frown__like I did that day in the conference room in Bengaluru? Don’t you want to “fulljoy” Life? If you do, then know that to “fulljoy” Life means to not worry and be happy! Because, when you worry, as Bob Marley famously and beautifully sang (“fulljoy” this song, clinging on to its every lyric…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIM3GHvBQjY), you only double your troubles!