How can you stay calm when there is one disruptive thing happening after another? This year is shaping up to be just as disruptive, if not more disruptive, than last year. The “new normal” may be us finally realizing that life is change and that there is no such thing as a steady state. How can you continue to innovate as the world churns around you?
People sometimes ask me how to remain calm despite all of this change.
Practice Pyrrhonism, an ancient Greek philosophy.
As a Pyhrronnist, I understand that life is change. No matter what happens, no matter how crazy, this is a normal part of life. There are always things going on in life that are going to upset your apple cart. You are gonna be very unhappy about things that are happening no matter what it is.
Whoever wants to live well must consider these three questions: First, how are things by nature? Secondly, what attitude should we adopt towards them? Thirdly, what will be the outcome for those who have this attitude? Pyrrho says that “all things are illogical, unstable, unbalanced, unmeasurable, unjudged, unfixed and undecidable”. None of our senses tell us the truth or lie; so we cannot rely on them. We should be without views, uninclined toward this side or that, unwavering in our refusal to choose, saying that everything is “no more than it is not or it both is and is not or it neither is nor is not”. The outcome for those who adopt this attitude is ataraxia (freedom from disturbance).
Life is gonna throw curveballs at you all the time. There are two ways in which you can deal with it. You can get freaked out and angry and rant out on Facebook or Twitter or our spouse or family or kick your cat, increase your blood pressure, or get depressed.
Or you can say “life is change” and allow life to “wash over you like water.” You can be chill. You can let it not bother you.
For example, let’s say that you get into a flame war with someone online. Words are flying, and feelings are hurt. But unless you are physically beaten, these are just words. Unless you allow these words to become weapons (which you use against yourself), then you are the one who is hurting yourself.
Throughout your entire life, in both your work and life, you are going to go through horrible times and awesomely amazing times. You are the only one who can decide how you will deal with these – you can either let them destroy your life, or you can let them uplift your life.
As innovators, we all have times when we feel that we have taken on impossible tasks for ourselves – creating and implementing innovative companies, products, and services is not easy. The more disruptive the concept, the more people will try to stop it. At times, the opposition will be disheartening. But in the end, developing something that can “dent the universe” is preferable to doing nothing at all. If you think about it – if you are being opposed, you are probably doing something right.
No matter what happens – maintaining your “ataraxia,” your ability to remain calm and controlled as everything around you is changing – will help you survive the chaos.