At the risk of sounding like an old codger (which I am not), I can’t believe how worked up people get up over common issues these days. It’s almost as if any level of adversity is intolerable. You would have thought the end the world was near the way everyone especially the media reacted to the recent winter storm. We were bombarded with worst case scenarios and impending doom. People raced to stores to stock up just in case they lost power for a few days. My goodness, can’t we handle a few days of discomfort if required? As a friend said yesterday, “Why the huge interest in toilet paper, can families really not survive a few days without TP?” Are they that close to the edge of hygienic catastrophe? I’ve seen it happen in families, businesses, schools, and communities: if you are not careful, weakness and worry is infectious. Like all significant change, it all starts with small symbolic gestures and begins to gain momentum elsewhere.
As a boy growing up pretty much all my public role models were the strong silent types. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen were all men of few words but vigorous action. Men didn’t show their feelings; they just dealt with whatever came their way in the most expeditious fashion. Problems were meant to be solved not fretted over. Real men weren’t vulnerable. They were strong for all of those around them and kept their feelings to themselves. My dad very much lived up to this expectation. I can’t remember even one example of him telling me how he “felt” about something. He just did what he was supposed to do and that was that.
Bottom line is that we all have assets and liabilities as individuals. There is a school of thought that given this we should focus just on what we are good at (leveraging the assets) and minimize everything else. I believe this mindset has the danger of being short-sighted and self-limiting. Too much of anything is never a good thing. The only way we evolve is through learning and experience. Personal growth happens with time as we stretch our perspectives and challenge individual conceits and preconceptions. If we narrowly focus our growth opportunities, we aren’t fully living. Weaknesses also exist and must be dealt with, not just circumvented or fortified with self protective behaviors. Adversity and challenge are a regular part of life and require some level of personal vulnerability if they are to be successfully navigated