It was a hectic morning in the kitchen. Pancakes were flipping, children were laughing, the bacon was sizzling and Carol was trying to balance the milk, blueberries and maple syrup in her arms. A child knocked into her and she managed to swerve, not dropping anything. As she swerve, her partner was trying to catch a flying pancake and bumped right into her. She balanced the blueberries, saved the maple syrup and the milk bottle left her hand, heading towards the ground. She could see it slow motion falling and by the time she cried out, “Noooooo!”, the bottle smashed and the white substance flowed rapidly in all directions. It was the last milk bottle. Carol was at her wit’s end.
At this moment in time, in walked her two beautiful cats and started lapping up the milk non-plussed that all these events had happened. They just continued to lap the milk slowly as Carol pulled out the kitchen towel and mop to clean the mess.
When something goes wrong in your life, do you throw your hands in the air and give up? Or do you do your best and salvage whatever can be saved and push on? Sometimes, when you are working really hard and had put in your all into something really important to you and life throws you a curveball, it is really hard not to give up and say, “What’s the point?” Of course, there are some events that may happen that makes it impossible to salvage anything and starting over is the only logical option. What about those events when it is not exactly 100% but maybe 90%? When you do not get exactly what you want, can you pivot and accept 90% or getting 100% is so crucial that you give up the 90%? For example, you have spent weeks working on a project, getting all the elements right and just before the presentation, something that is not crucial to the project goes missing. Do you present it with the component missing or do you give up? Maybe you are making pancakes and after making the batter, you realise you have run out of eggs. No shops are opened and no neighbours to borrow eggs from. Do you abandon the mix or make eggless pancakes?
Are you someone with flexibility or rigidity? Usually, it is a mixture of varying degrees. It depends on your personal values, your own rules (yes, you have them. Rules that make or break a deal. Rules that make you happy or sad), and your beliefs of what something means to you. You may have to balance the idea of not having ‘Perfectionist’ syndrome and making sure what you deliver to the world is the best as it has your name on it. Sometimes, there is the fear of compromising your standards and ultimately, yourself, if you are not getting the exact results that you want.
There are times when your values, with all the best intentions, will hinder you in your life. When that happens, you can almost be sure that it has something to do with your ego, your need to be correct. Are you able to let go and empty your cup in thinking that you do not have all the answers? Or maybe things are not as bad they seem to be (they usually never are!)? It may be useful to remember and focus on exactly are the desired results. If the purpose of the presentation is to get a contract at the end, would you still be able to do so without that non-crucial element in your project? If the purpose of the pancakes was to make sure everyone was fed and had a great quality family time during breakfast, is that still possible having eggless pancakes or spill the milk? Things are really never as bad as they appear to be. Deal-breakers do exist and maybe those deals are not meant to be made anyway…
Are you happy with 90%? Or even 60% for that matter? Do you think that ‘Done is better than perfect’? Or do you feel unless it reflects all your values and beliefs as it ultimately reflects upon yourself, it should not be done? The reality is both thoughts are right and wrong. It depends on the situation and what results you desire. For example, in veterinary medicine, you either fully castrate a dog or you have not. You cannot say, “But I have removed one testicle and accidentally left the other one behind. It is better than nothing.” It does not work that way. However, if after a stitch-up (suturing up and closing an open wound), a bit of the suture came out or have broken down, it is possible to manage that without any further surgery and that is not necessarily considered a failure.
So, when something unexpected happens that results in you not having the exact outcome you desired, may I humbly suggest staying mindful of the result you want and ask if you are still able to obtain the results anyway? Sometimes the results you think you want is not actually it. Using the examples above, it is not the perfect project you desire, it is the contract. It is not the pancake you want, it is your family being fed and having a great time. Also, be sure that your values, beliefs and rules empower you, not hinder you. Remember to be rigid in your goals and flexible in your approach. Know that the more you think you know something, the tighter you hold on to specific thoughts, values, or beliefs, the bigger your blind spot.
Lastly, practising gratitude can help immensely to regain your composure and make space for your silent and wise sovereign soul to tell you that everything is good. Be grateful that you have the opportunity to do a project, whether you had the desired outcome or not. Be grateful that you had milk in the first place to spill. Be grateful you have a family that you want to make perfect pancakes for. It does not change the outcome but it changes your internal state. Gratitude is truly a powerful tool. Be sure you have it in your toolbox of life.
When milk is spilt, Munchkin and Zsa zsa laps it up from the floor. They do not mind it is not in their saucer as long as it ends up in their stomachs! What do you do when your milk is spilt?
“I don’t like looking back. I am constantly looking forward. I am not the sort that sits and cries over spilt milk. I am too busy looking for the next cow.” – Gordon Ramsay