The Zen of Business and Personal Frustration: Lessons Learned

Business lessons in adversity. Yesterday was a day that should have driven me up the wall. I watched every photo I had taken from the fall of 2005 through the fall of 2007 permanently disappear in a computer failure, while I was trying to copy them to an external drive. A squabble on a discussion list turned ugly in a way that could have serious repercussions for the future of my business. I left yet another voicemail with the editor at a big NY publishing house who should have had a revised contract on my desk in June and has not been answering phone calls or e-mails. Oh yes, and I not only got to walk my dog in the pouring rain (it was only raining at the hiking trail, not at my house half a mile away) and get attacked by mosquitoes, but actually got stung by a bee--in my own kitchen--when I returned.

And yet, somehow, I found the Zen of it all, and stayed remarkably calm while my life appeared to be falling apart. A few years ago, I don't think I could have handled that so smoothly. The loss of the photos alone (including our whole trip to Mexico) would have made me insane.

I thought about the time a few years ago when i was driving a rental car in San Francisco, didn't have the mirror adjusted properly, and accidentally cut off another driver. With true California class, he leaned out his window and called out, "It's all good!" I apologized and explained that because it was an unfamiliar car, I had misaligned the mirror, and he was cool with it.

But I've often reflected on that. And on the way my friend and mentor Bob Burg is able to deflect conflict, defuse angry people, and accomplish his agenda. He has a newsletter and book called Winning Without Intimidation. I finally got to meet Bob last week when he came to this area for a speech; we've been friends online for maybe eight years, and I include a section on him in my award-winning sixth book, <a href="http://www.principledprofit.com">Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First</a>.

Applying it to the day I had yesterday, I won't try to analyze how I stayed so calm. But I <em>will</em> try to draw some business lessons from it.

First of all, back up your files offsite. Duh! I'll be exploring the best places to do this.

Second, showing anger in public is <em>always</em> counterproductive, no matter how "right" you think you are. I have to go re-read that chapter I wrote about Bob Burg. I played a part in turning that list discussion ugly, and I regret it. And I'll have to deal with the consequences. I will of course try to do better next time.

And third, be patient because you don't now what the world has in store for you. If I'm feeling frustrated because the editor isn't returning my call, or because the <a href="http://www.business-ethics-pledge.org">Business Ethics Pledge</a> is not getting signatures as quickly as I'd like, or because the six-legged critters are apparently out to get me, I just have to remember the guy in California. "It's all good," even if I don't know exactly how, yet.

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