I had a conversation with a director friend of mine a few days ago and he mentioned an issue he was having with a landlord over a property deal and the landlord refusing to pay out what was due etc. etc.
It’s the sort of conversation we come across, every now and again, when something similar has either happened to us or to our friends and we can only vent and get frustrated by it so as to make us feel validated and feel better about it later on.
But, what made the conversation I had with the director different was that he kept referring to the incident as ‘interesting.’ He saw the situation as an interesting occurrence rather than as a fault and I couldn’t help but notice the amount of times he kept repeating that word which I found to be quite refreshing.
To find an issue, a cause or a problem ‘Interesting’ is much better than seeing it as a burden or something to be aggravated about. Which bring me nicely on to an article I’ve recently read by Jocko Willink, a retired Navy Seal commander, who talks about dealing with setback, failures, delays, defeats or other disasters in simple structured way and that is with one word: ’Good.’
Whenever one of his subordinates came to him with a major problem or some issue that was going on, Jocko would look at him and say ‘good.’ It came to a point that after awhile this person stopped approaching Jocko with problems since he already knew what he was going to say.
Jocko explains that when things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that will come from it and it’s our job to keep an open mind to it:
- Oh, a project got cancelled? Good. We can focus on another one.
- Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.
- Didn’t get enough funding? Good. We can do with what we’ve got.
- Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good. Go out, gain more experience and build a better CV.
- Got beat? Good. We learned.
- Unexpected problem? Interesting. We have the opportunity to figure out a solution (i.e what my director friend would say)
That’s it. When things are going bad, don’t get all pissed off or frustrated. Just look at the issue and say: good. And this isn’t with the aim of being cliched. It’s not trying to sound like Mr. Positive Guy since being positive may not solve the problem and neither will dwelling on the problem. The idea is accepting reality and focusing on the solution. Taking the issue, taking the setback, taking the problem and turning it into something good. It’s like being handed a lemon and instead of complaining, making a lemonade out of it.
Jocko ends his article by saying if you can say the word good guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, that means you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, re-engage and go out and attack. And that, right there, is about as good as it gets.