I think we are all still experiencing the pressure of work and family at the start of what we felt might be a little easier and a more settled start for 2022. John Bowen continued last month to write about his concern for all his taff as they try and cope with staff shortages, shortages of materials, and our inability to deliver 100% ‘On Time In Full’!  

On occasions I am alerted to issues individuals are dealing with at home and/or work … I firmly believe ‘we work so we can live’, not the reverse.

The ‘better world’ John envisaged we would return to he agreed has not quite happened and getting one’s head around the fact demands self-control, patience, understanding and a bit of wisdom i.e., ‘the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment, the quality of being wise.’ My hope is that our older experienced staff will lead the way. We do have a great group of ‘youngies’ who already display wisdom beyond their years, but one can’t expect them to confront nor understand the pressure our builder customers are under, plus cope with the anger of some customers frustrated by our (and the industry’s) inability to perform at the highest level.  

All we can do is do what we can” was a quote I found somewhere, and I know that this would normally be an acceptable approach … but today the pressure to ‘go beyond’ is both expected and demanded. Wise heads around our company are required, and where ‘good judgment’ in balancing the needs of our customers and the needs of our staff are equally important.  

The meaning of ‘working so we can live’ to me is about the workplace being a great ‘away from home’ experience while providing our source of income.  

It has also been said … “That man’s moments of freedom tend to come under crisis or challenge, and that when things are going well, he tends to allow his grip on life to slacken” (Author: Colin Wilson) 

If one can treat the current adversity our lives are embroiled in at the moment as a challenge that brings out the best in us, that would be a great result. For those of us who become rattled and out of sorts, then that needs to be recognised and guidance provided … “R U OK” – No! I need help! 

High performance people (if we are to learn from them) have that wonderful trait of composure – all about staying calm and ‘cool’. Bit hard when you have a builder on the phone tearing you to pieces because the order scheduled for the day is not going to happen! Or for the builder who has a deadline to meet before penalties start to ramp up … both parties need to show a bit of composure to help them concentrate on the solution not the cause.  

Handling the pressure of life generally requires composure, which includes trying to maintain a sense of humour to off-set those anger ‘moments’ that certain pressures bring on.  

As a philosopher of non-violence, I think it’s worth learning from the great Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” … and “anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”. A great example of Gandhi in action is in the following story (oft quoted)

When Gandhi was studying law at University College, London, a Caucasian professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely and always displayed prejudice and animosity towards him.  Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him, as he expected, there were always arguments and confrontations.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University, and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor said,   “Mr. Gandhi, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”

Gandhi looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.  Mr. Peters,  reddened  with rage, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions.

Mr. Peters, unhappy and frustrated, asked him the following question. “Mr. Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?”

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “The one with the money, of course.”

Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically, said, “I, in your place, would have taken wisdom, don’t you think?”

Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr. Peters, by this time was beside himself and so great was his anger that he wrote on

Gandhi’s exam sheet the word  “idiot” and gave it to Gandhi.  Gandhi took the  exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified

but sarcastically polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you  did not give me the grade.”

Wit always wins over anger. 

So, if we stay composed and think before we act, we may discover a way to cope in these difficult times.

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