Heed the Red Flags

A few days ago, I encountered an issue at work that really upset me. For a few moments, I allowed myself to fixate on the problem until I became angry. It was at that moment a warning siren went off in my mind. What will happen if I take this anger too far?

For some, it doesn’t take much to set them off. The smallest infraction can flip the switch that causes their blood to boil. It is easy for me to spot it in others, but often I don’t even notice my own switch. And like the incident at work, it is my ego that allows that anger to rise. If I was less self-absorbed and had the ability to see the bigger picture, I would realize that this misdemeanor against me was not some sort of malicious scheme.

If in that moment of anger, if I could not get control of my emotions, I was at risk professionally. Saying the wrong thing could result in disciplinary measures, even termination. And though in my mind I would tell myself it would never go that far, the lack of self-control I was demonstrating would suggest it to be possible.

But I also had another thing to consider: my reputation. Do I want to be known as that guy who is emotionally unstable? Do I want to be the one who talks and writes about living a virtuous life but is unable to actually live it? Of course not. What kind of example would I be demonstrating to my peers? More importantly, what kind of example would I be demonstrating to my family, my son?

The red flags were a good reminder to slow down. They were saying to proceed with caution, because there were dangerous turns up ahead. I am thankful that the red flags popped up, and that I heeded their message. I took a moment to relax. I took a moment to breathe and see the issue from a different perspective. The anger ceased to rise, and I avoided any potential consequences.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid one hundred days of sorrow. –Chinese Proverb

The ability to be patient is the ultimate in self-control. If we take the focus off of ourselves, we can realize that mistakes occur often without malice. By maintaining poise in the situation, we can address the problem at hand, correct it, and move forward.

Move Your Mountain

How often have I looked into the future and viewed that great achievement of my imagination? I could smell it, visualize it, almost reach out and touch it. I would imagine how great it would be to accomplish it. The vision would often continue in my mind for a few days, even for weeks. And then, it would fade. I wouldn’t write it down. I wouldn’t plan it out. I wouldn’t begin the work. It was only a dream, one of many.

The vision is a mountain. It is tall and majestic. In all its glory, looming large within the scopes of my imagination, I would never be able to move it. It is simply too big. Or is it? I can take away a bit at a time. It would be hard work. It would take time. But time and work equals results. If I broke it down into small milestones, the pieces would be more manageable. With the right plan and persistence, that dream could be a reality.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away a small stone.” –Confucius