Chicago O’Hare airport has three terminals built together, and each terminal has up to three concourses (which are like terminals at any other airport but at O’Hare they have a different name), and I walked up and down each terminal and concourse during a very long layover last week. O’Hare is massive, and it is busy. People, everywhere, walking, waiting, shopping, eating, boarding, and rushing. For some reason, among all that hubbub, it occurred to me that I am just one person among many, many people.
The feeling I got in the airport is the same feeling many people get standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or from the top of a high mountain, or walking on the beach by the ocean, or while watching the sunset or seeing the stars come out. Each one of us individually is small.
Sometimes, though, it feels like everything is on the line. This one board meeting, this presentation, this conversation. This is the moment that could derail everything. This is the moment that can change everything. This is the project that has to be approved. This new plan has to work.
The stakes are rarely that high. Rather, when we think that the stakes are very high, we get stuck, or we act badly. We lean away. We get nervous. We think of ourselves, not of the other person. We become rigid, aggressive, or scared.
When it feels to you like everything is on the line, try shifting your mindset. Think, this is just one small moment in my life. This is just a blip in the history of the association. Most members won’t notice. There are many options and opportunities, not just this one.