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"Sometimes the flowers arrange themselves, Jim."
Welcome to Not Pretty, Not Rich, a newsletter for the world’s underdogs. If you were forwarded this email and would like to subscribe, you can do so here. You can also unsubscribe at any time.
This is the second issue. Past issues can be found here.
This week, we’re focusing on an important concept: Keeping your cool. The ability to remain calm, detach yourself emotionally, and stay centered is valuable, but not easy to cultivate. If you work on it, however, it’s a skill that can serve you in a number of ways.
I recently met author Ryan Holiday in person for the first time. He came to our studio for an interview and to talk about his new book “Stillness is The Key.” I’ve followed him for years, and his work has resonated with me. As did this new book, because it’s all about keeping your cool in the face of pressure.
That’s what inspired this week’s newsletter. I think back at the many times things have spun out of control around me — at work, financially, etc. Fighting against it all may give you the illusion that you’re making headway when in reality, you’re just exhausting yourself. Sometimes, it’s best to let the current carry you where it may, and when things calm down, make do.
That’s not to say that you need to take everything lying down. You don’t, and shouldn’t. But you should pick your battles, conserve your energy, and not sweat the small stuff. Things have a way of sorting themselves out.
Or, in the immortal words of Robert California, James Spader’s character on “The Office,”: “Sometimes the flowers arrange themselves, Jim.”
1. Finding a sense of ‘stillness’
2. The difference between ‘react’ and ‘respond’
1. Find ‘stillness’
As previously mentioned, we recently had Ryan Holiday in the studio for an interview. His book discusses how we can find a sense of ‘stillness’ in our everyday lives, and why it can be beneficial. I would recommend you read it, but to give you an idea of how this might apply to, say, money, Holiday says:
“We know that the best investment strategy is long term. It’s indifferent to the day-to-day fluctuations of the market. It’s not emotional. It’s logical. It’s value-based.”
In other words, let the chips fall where they may.
The takeaway: Keep your cool, make better decisions, and don’t worry so much about what you can’t control.
2. Don’t react. Respond.
What’s the difference between a reaction and a response? You can think of a ‘reaction,’ in this sense, as the first and often most instinctual action you’ll make to an outside force. You may run away if someone pops out from behind a car, for example, or blurt out an expletive when you touch a hot stove.
It’s generally emotional and illogical — your inner-caveman takes over.
A response, conversely, is (hopefully) calm, measured, and thought-out. At least to an extent. By training yourself to respond, rather than reacting to things — particularly at work — it may help set you apart. And maybe help establish you as a leader.
Gordon Tredgold writes in Inc.:
“Don't be driven by your emotions, leaders need to be seen to be calm, considered and thoughtful at all times, as it builds trust and can reduce stress in difficult situations...The tendency to overreact, or letting your emotions get the better of you can be used to undermine your credibility, and limit your opportunities.”
The takeaway: Train yourself to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Instead, slow down, think things through, and respond in a measured, calculated way. Be still, in other words.
What I’ve been writing about:
I went deep on dollar stores.
Not everyone is worried about a recession. But some people are, and they’re worried about losing their jobs more than anything else.
I spoke with an expert about how to keep your utility bills down this winter.
Once again, if you want to check those articles out and share them, I’d appreciate it.
That’s all for now. Stay vigilant.
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