Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a heated situation where emotions keep escalating? This is what happened to me over the last few weeks. In spite of the tension, my colleague, “Jay”, showed an incredible amount of poise. You could say his theme was: “I play it cool”.
Many people are incorporating the practice of detachment into their spiritual lives. It’s true that we often hold on much too tightly to our ideal outcome. However, detachment may become so watered down that it results in apathy like my earlier column, “Too Motivated By the Miracle.” Is there anyone in your world who doesn’t take much action? Instead they insist dreamily, “If it’s meant to be…it will be.” It’s wonderful to state your intention and be open to what comes next. However, if you have no interest in what actually shows up, are you too detached? Have you missed an opportunity to direct your gifts, intellect and passion?
Jay demonstrated detachment beautifully. Day after day, week after week, the work scenarios would change. The project manager was a spur of the moment, free spirit. She was light on details and couldn’t understand Jay’s growing frustration with the churn. After all, everything would eventually come together – right?
There were a few tense moments, but Jay never lost his temper. As I thought back, I recalled one hard project after another we’ve encountered. They all had the same hallmarks – his behavior was consistently positive. His actions quietly showed: “I know what’s important.” “I know who I am and stay in peace, no matter what’s going on around me.” “I ride the wave. I respond to circumstances instead of fighting them.”
My blood pressure levels dropped as his calm, direct responses trickled in. Let’s be honest – most of us start to fly off the handle when people are pushy. Instead, the dynamics were reshaped and constantly transformed. Here are a few examples:
- Deadline moved up a week? Let me see what I can do to finish this early.
- Documents need to modified and reviewed again? I only have time to make a few small changes, but it will keep us on track.
- Hiring a new vendor? Next time use someone pre-approved, but here are some talking points about our policies in the meantime. Let me know how things go.
Alternately, think about the questions above with answers like, “How could you do this to me!” or “Why are you even suggesting that!” Being outrageous may be colorful in the moment, but it rarely solves problems. Instead of remembering brilliant solutions, the only story people tell is, “Wow – that guy is really a screamer.” Jay was the opposite – as the emails piled up, he would often catch me in the hall, shake his head and make a quick joke about the latest development, and then peacefully move on with his day.
This week, I encourage you to find your own best expression of detachment. No matter what comes your way, resolve to stay cool! Remember the counsel of sculptor Auguste Rodin, “Patience is also a form of action.”