The cherry blossoms are blooming in Washington, DC, and they’re absolutely beautiful, according to the local TV news. Also related to color, my neighbors suddenly look 20 years older. (As an aside, there seems to be some disagreement on the exclusion of hair salons from the “essential services” list.)
Ambiguity Can Be Soul-Crushing
We can’t change anything, so we may as well accept that the future is filled with misery and stress, right?
Not necessarily. It’s true that in many areas the ambiguity in our daily life and near-term planning is crushing our moods, but you can actually reduce the emotional stress by creating a bit of certainty within our uncertain world.
Have you seen this recent news item? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally made their decision to postpone this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo by a full year. This follows quicker decisions by the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the USTA French Open Tennis tournaments (for my more sophisticated friends) to postpone their seasons and events until it is safe to resume play. It was only a matter of time before the IOC accepted reality.
More than simply “accepting” it, reality needs to be embraced. Avoidance compounds the problem.
Let’s start with those who are impacted by the new dates for the Tokyo Olympics: athletes, trainers, their families, hospitality workers, food providers, broadcast employees, sponsors, ticket holders, government sports organizations around the world, volunteers, other major sporting events – the list can continue for several more pages. The cost of this postponement just to Japan is estimated to exceed $2 billion. The worldwide cost will be even higher.
This Decision Cost Billions!
So how is this good?
All of the above-mentioned participants and organizations can now focus on resolving issues related to the postponement, and begin working, training, and planning for the event down the road. This is terribly inconvenient and costly, and sadly, some athletes may not pursue their dreams another year because of other responsibilities.
The decision, however, is freeing and focusing for all of those who are impacted.
At best, indecision, slow action, and ambiguity lead only to lower productivity. At worst, it causes emotional paralysis and depression.
Sometimes You Have No Choice But To Act
The daughter of some close friends had a baby this week, their first child. Healthy, beautiful and big (9 pounds, 11 ounces) – the proud parents, extended families, and friends are ecstatic. Fortunately, the doctors did not observe current social-distancing norms by standing 6 feet away from the mother and baby during birth. (The parents apparently have the Platinum Insurance plan.)
This day was very welcome and long in arriving. New parent expectations, planning, and instruction books for raising a healthy child in this new era of TP shortages have been studied for 9 months (and 2 days).
And now it’s game time! The baby is here and there is nothing ambiguous about what needs to happen when a baby needs to be changed, fed, bathed, comforted, changed again, and loved, not necessarily in that order. (Note: welcome to the world Connor! It really is a wonderful place, you’ll see.)
Quarantine and Home Restrictions
You and I have been on “home restriction” with some exceptions for food, essential work, neighborhood walks, and healthcare visits. These restrictions will continue for an unknown period of time. That’s our reality at the moment.
When we embrace this new and temporary reality, we can add structure, make plans, schedule time for reading, family games, schoolwork, work-at-home obligations (if we’re in that fortunate group to still have a job), and find alternate sources of staying in touch with family, friends, and maybe even our hairstylist.
You can’t control the pandemic, but you can determine how you adapt your life to maximize its richness, even in this unprecedented time. So…eliminate as much ambiguity as you can!
Be well – stay healthy!
I’m Mason Harris, The Chutzpah Guy, and I now have more time to work on my new book. Surprise – it’s about chutzpah! If you’d like to participate in my crowd-sourcing research please reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll send you a questionnaire. Whether you have chutzpah, wish you knew where to buy it online, think it’s about arrogance, or have no idea what I’m writing about – you can still be helpful and your input is appreciated!
If you enjoyed this article, here is a link to a previous work that also involved one of my principles of chutzpah: