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Work/Life: Stuck in the Elevator Shaft of Our Lives

 

 

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  • The latest YouTube sensation is a long-suppressed video from1999, showing edited highlights of a man going slowly bonkers while being trappedin an elevator for nearly two days. At one point, the poor guy, stuck in an office building on a weekend,attempts to literally climb the walls. I don’t claim that I would have behaved any differently if I was in hisshoes at the time, but I believe his ordeal has provided a cautionary tale forthe rest of us, and a reminder that in every supposedly negative turn of eventsthere exists a lesson for the next time.
  • So, if any of you overachieving, stressed-out businessmenand women ever find yourselves in the same predicament as this latest Internetstar, don’t view it at as an invitation to chew your fingernails to the nubs orpound your fist against the imitation wood grain. No. This isjust another aspect of the successful business person’s tendency to rail andfight against anything they cannot control. Looked at in another light, being stuck in an elevator couldvery well be nature’s way of imposing down time on you. Claustrophobic, psyche-busting downtime to be sure, but down time nonetheless.
  • Do some breathing exercises. Think about how you might structure that Great AmericanNovel you’ve always had inside you. Try to sing the entire soundtrack to “West Side Story” from memory. Try to recite the play-by-play from thehistoric 1984 National League game five playoff between the Cubs and the Padres,also from memory. If you have yourbriefcase with you, write a love letter to your spouse. Write letters to your kids. By the time you’re through exploringthe ways you have been forced to relax, you’ll forget to check and see if youcan get cell phone reception in an elevator shaft. But, if you do, and you’re lucky enough to be stuck in theelevator on a Saturday and Sunday like the guy on YouTube was, it’s freeweekend minutes! Maybe you cancall a few long-lost friends; you know, the ones who somehow got the work/lifebalance you’ve always wanted and whom you have secretly always envied for theirseemingly effortless happiness. Theirsoothing tones will remind you of what you can still achieve if you’d only takethings a little more slowly.
  • The possibilities for constructive use of your new-foundquiet time are endless. Sure, thewhole no-food-or-water thing could get old fast, but if you really are thetype-A personality everyone says you are, this is but a trifle. Not that I wish the fate of beingtrapped in an elevator on anyone. I’m just saying, see it as an opportunity and not a setback. A way of discovering that circumstanceshave handed you something that will ultimately be healthier for you, despitethe first rush of disappointment you feel at the news. Kind of like when Starbucks is out ofpastries.

 

 

 

 

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