Always On Top or a Flop

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

After leaving the White house, Lyndon B.Johnson returned to his Texas ranch.  There, he once ordered certain mechanical parts in order to repair the irrigation pumps at his ranch.  A slight delay occurred in the arrival of the mechanical parts.  This event threw the man who had held the highest office in the nation in total despair.  He said, "It's all been determined, you know.  Once more I am going to fail.  All my life I wanted to enjoy this land;  It's all I have left now."  That night Lyndon Johnson couldn't sleep all night as he kept thinking about those parts.  Next morning, he said, "I must have those parts before the end of the day.  I simply must.  If I don't, everything is going to fall apart.  Everything."  

 Johnson had numerous similar "crises" throughout his career.  If something didn't happen as he had planned or wanted it, it augured the Doomsday for him.  He was so fearful of the potential future disasters, he couldn't ever enjoy the present.  The great accomplishments of his past failed to reassure him of his ability to put things right.  He was always fearful of the ultimate collapse that was to begin soon.  Johnson sure was a type A personality.  

 Enjoy the moment of completion of a project before you start another one or before you start worrying about all other unfinished projects.  Some people really operate that way, as if they say to themselves, "Oh! Since I have finished this project, I have time to worry about the other projects I haven't finished yet."  To counteract this, relish your moments of present and past glory.  Make a "Victory List" of all your accomplishments of the past.  Once in a while, go over your Victory List to whip up your self-confidence.  A CEO had a Victory Wall which listed the major accomplishments of the company.  It was a great morale booster for everyone working there.   

 Do not impose unnecessary deadlines on yourself.  Mark my word "unnecessary" deadlines.  If you have a genuine deadline, by all means work it in.  But, severe type A sufferers impose artificial deadlines on themselves because they think they can only work inside a pressure cooker.  Then they act as if the deadline is a "do or die" situation.  Deadlines have killed people.  Sometimes, I wonder if that's the reason they are named that way.  People who constantly act as if they are running out of time, they prove themselves to be correct, they literally run out of time.  

 Some people believe that the reason they came ahead in life was because they drove themselves harder than anyone around them.  Recognize that real secret of your success is not how ruthlessly and aggressively you drove yourself and others. Secret of your success, perhaps, is your creative ability, your talent for organization, flexibility, and your ability to persist.  

 Field Marshall Slim once said, "Generals would do well to remember that even in war, wisdom comes by opportunity of leisure."  New and creative ideas often "flash" in the mind when one is lying on the beach, taking a long walk, or resting under the shade of a tree in his or her backyard.  Animals take good breaks.  It's built in their system and by golly they follow it.  

 However, humans run the risk of working against their in-built system.  We need complete and thorough breaks from time to time, and to regularly breathe in a stress-free atmosphere so we can replenish ourselves.  All developed cultures and religions have provided this for their participants, at least once a week.  Someone once said, "Beware of the mind- destroying property of constant activity."  Good advice.     

 Andrew Weir, who was recently described by Time magazine as the "medicine man" says that we need at least one day in the week when we take a complete break from everything that produces stress.  He would like us to not even listen to the news that day.  Considering all the bad news we receive and how worked-up we get on certain issues, I can see the logic of his advice.  

 People who are unable to rest or relax are always telling everyone what to do.  The moment their loved ones or well-wishers make a suggestion, they tear it down.  Being the head of family or leader of a team doesn't mean one has to constantly direct everybody.  I am sure you have heard the saying that God has given us one mouth and two ears.  The purpose of this divine design of facial features may be so we can listen twice more than we speak.  The other day I heard Steven Covey come up with a new angle to it.  He said that ears can never be shut up, but the mouth can.  Therefore, elect to keep the mouth shut, he says.   I guess now it's my turn to do so. 

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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