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Uncertainty, like change, is a constant

It is easy to get caught and taken off-balance by the things that grab us as we try to navigate our way through each day. How we can turn the events of an increasingly uncertain world

into an opportunity for growth is something I have been working on for a while now.

Giving someone a knife and telling them, in front of 66 of their peers, to stab you in the stomach doesn’t seem like a sensible thing to do if you are focused on growth! You can almost see the blade sinking into the flesh, your body curling up in an attempt to avoid the tip. In a perverse way it almost seems inevitable, like you can do nothing other than watch the knife make its way into your stomach.

The knife (a wooden tanto or practice knife – I am not completely insane!) was a step up, the next progression of an exercise we had been doing that provides a physical experience of how we get caught and taken off-balance by the things that grab us as we try to navigate our way through each day. Stuff grabs us all the time and it doesn’t have to be a knife or someone reaching out to hold on to you. Much of it feels the same though – finding out that you have been made redundant can feel a lot like getting hit in the stomach with a knife.

It doesn’t have to be potentially life changing – it might only be that someone has declined a request we have made of them. It is easy to be unbalanced by an alarm that doesn’t go off when you have to get up for an early meeting.

Sometimes the thing that grabs us isn’t even directed at us – coming home after a tough day to find your partner has had an even worse day and needs to vent can shake you up just as bad.

It is easy to get stuck by letting your attention get taken to what ever it is that grabs you. To get caught and feel trapped by the circumstances. Like the knife it can seem inevitable that it will do you in.

It isn’t.

In fact, a whole new set of possible futures can open up for you if you know how to turn the grab into a gift.*

The first step is to acknowledge that someone or something has grabbed you. Ignoring it will not help. Giving in just puts you forever at their mercy. Fighting it will only result in, well … a fight.

Don’t be fooled though, sometimes acknowledging you have been grabbed is the hardest part. Once you can notice that you have been grabbed the key is to not focus on the thing that grabs you – because if you do, like the knife, you will not be able to see anything else. (A good way to tell where you are focused is to listen to your inner monologue – if it is a pretty constant stream of epithets directed towards a boss or a partner who always does this sort of thing just to … well you get the idea.)

Instead, just notice that you have been grabbed and create a different conversation – “Isn’t that interesting! Wow. I really have been grabbed good this time haven’t I? I wonder why?”

Yes, but what about the knife I hear you ask? I can’t ignore it or I will get stabbed! What about the fact that I no longer have a job? I can’t just sit here and do nothing – I need to do something or I will have no money!

I didn’t say ignore it and I didn’t say to just accept it and do nothing. Just notice you have been grabbed and then look around. Then you will start to see that you have other options and other actions open to you. From there you will be able to create new opportunities that will deal with the knife or your concerns about income in a way that you cannot if you focus on what has grabbed you.

Try it. You’ll be surprised.


* This post was inspired by my good friend and mentor Lance Giroux of Allied Ronin who first introduced me to seeing a grab as a gift. It was first published here on May 6, 2014 under the title "what grabs you?"

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