Lessons on life's ups and downs
Flickr user PaulSteinJC
The other day, a stock I owned was up over 10 percent on good news and down even more on bad news the following day. I'd just as soon have none of that roller-coaster stuff happen, but that's not how things work. Life has its ups and downs, just like stocks do.
That said, there are a number of factors that increase the frequency of those ups and downs. Some are personal while others are work-related. More important, some factors are external while others are more or less self-imposed, meaning you can moderate them if you choose.
Here are some observations on what makes your life like a roller-coaster and what, if anything, you can do about it:
- I bet you hate to be micromanaged. I know; everybody does. Well, get this. When you constantly react to things like your email, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, or other high-frequency distractions from the real work at hand, that's effectively the same as micromanaging yourself. Instead of reacting to a dysfunctional boss who scrutinizes your every move, you're reacting to dozens, maybe hundreds of people who do the same.
I've definitely noticed a trend along those lines these past five years or so. Odd, that's about the time I started blogging and getting involved in social media. Coincidence? I don't think so.
- Miles Davis, one of my all-time favorite jazz musicians, said, "When you hit a wrong note, it's the next note that makes it good or bad." I've used that quote in lots of ways over the years. In this context it's like saying, "Bad things happen, but how you respond makes it worse or better."
- Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between good and bad news. These days, folks somehow manage to spin the same news one way or the other, depending on their perspective. So the same event affects different people differently. That's obviously the case in politics, but that's too easy. I prefer more interesting examples, like the next one from the telecom world.
Yesterday, shares of Sprint jumped 20 percent because quarterly revenue increased, iPhone sales were better than expected, and the company's shutdown of Nextel and deployment of a next-generation network is on track. But that network upgrade is way behind competitor's AT&T and Verizon, Sprint continues to lose subscribers, the iPhone deal probably won't generate a profit until 2015, and Sprint's quarterly loss widened to $1.37 billion. That pushes the telecom's cumulative loss since Dan Hesse took over as CEO four-and-a half-years ago to over $13 billion. He seems to think the company's turnaround is on track and others agree, but I'm not one of them. Even with today's bump, the stock is down 25 percent over the past year and 75 percent since Hesse was hired.
- Conventional wisdom says age dampens those crazy ups and downs. You know how when you're young, every little thing seems like a national crisis. Like when your face breaks out, you lose a basketball game, or your girlfriend kisses another guy. When you get older, you become more confident and comfortable in your own skin and those bumps in the road begin to level off. Then you get even older and your body starts to fall apart. So much for conventional wisdom.
- One of the saddest and most ironic things about life is that, once you figure out what you really like to do or are really good at, you're either too old to do it or you can't do it all the time because it's just not feasible or healthy. For me, that turned out to be sort of a mixed bag. It's great that I discovered this love for writing before my brain turned to mush. On the other hand, I also like to have a little too much fun, if you know what I mean. They say everything in moderation, but I've never quite been able to pull that off. How about you?
- That brings us to the last thing I've discovered about the ups and downs of life. Without one, you really can't perceive the other. Everything is relative. It's a yin and yang thing. As it says in the Tao Te Ching, all behaviors contain their opposites. That's a paraphrase, by the way.
Look at it this way. Life and death, good and bad, ups and downs, they go hand in hand. Just try to keep the self-inflicted bad stuff to a minimum, if you can. Life will send plenty of it your way all by itself.
Image courtesy of Flickr user PaulSteinJC
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