Monday, November 13, 2017

Take a Step Back



On one of the live Grateful Dead tapes that I used to have, the band comments that people are crowding too close to the stage.  To have the audience move back and make some general space, the band starts chanting, “1, 2, 3, take a step back.”  This seems to have worked, as there are other live records where they repeated this method.  If you have ever been to a concert with general admissions, as the band is playing and people are really into the music, they seem to gravitate closer to the stage.  They may not be intentionally rushing the stage, but more are drawn to it. They literally have to take a step back.

Basically, I am not an in your face type of person.  I am somewhat reserved, and slow to getting angry…but it does happen (as with most people).  When I get angry, or upset, it is usually after a series of events, a bad day, or someone has already gotten under my skin.  I do not look for confrontation, but sometimes, like my example above, it seems like I am drawn towards it.  That is not to make an excuse, but reality.

What I find is that usually, I get frustrated (instead of angry).  I have learned that people do not always listen, or, maybe better put, hear what they want based on the filters they have in place.  I can say something multiple times, but if my audience does not care, it is not important to them, or, they are completely distracted, they will not hear, no matter how hard I try, what I have to say.  Down the road, when what I have been saying, or in some cases, they have agreed with me, they realize it may affect them directly, they engage by either agreeing or, in many cases, pushing back.  The frustration happens, on my part, when I have put out the effort to communicate, taken steps to move something forward, and engaged other people, when my original audience decides to make a decision based on a single point and without “taking a step back” to look at the bigger picture, or deny they had prior knowledge.

As Frank Sinatra sang, “That’s life…ridin’ high in April, shot down in May…back on top in June…”  We have choices in life, either we let people (that we have no control over) dictate our outcomes, or we (re)direct our paths (things we have control over) to improve the chances of success.  Yes, sometimes we all need to take a step back.  People have short-term memories and forget the conversations they have had – I cannot control that.  People are self-interested and in general are concerned about themselves – I cannot forget that.  Align the path with others interests – I control.  Making sure to include everyone – I control. 

While we can take a step back, reassess the situation, readjust things and redirect our efforts towards our objective, it is important not to lose sight of our objects / goals.  Like any road we travel, there are times where a tree can fall in the way, a speed bump appears out of nowhere or we simply need to refuel.  Taking detours are part of being a driver.  When we fall, we can get up, brush ourselves off and move forward.  I can take a step back, catch my breath and move on.  Occasionally, like the Dead, it is OK to tell others to take a step back.