Early in the movie, Seabiscuit (2003), there’s a great moment that occurs right after the lead character (or I guess I should say, lead horse!) loses a race as a result of another jockey and horse cutting him off. Seabiscuit’s jockey, Red, played by Tobey MacGuire, cries out after losing a race, “He fouled me! What am I supposed to do? Let him get away with it? He fouled me!!!”
Jeff Bridges replies, “Son, what are you so mad at?”
Have you ever gotten worked up over something relatively little and thrown away, or nearly thrown away, a bigger opportunity as a result? Heck, forget even giving up an opportunity as a result. Have you ever found yourself angry, or frustrated, or anxious, or nervous, or whatever – over something relatively small – all because or what “someone else” did to you?
We get caught up, very easily, in the actions of others, but what it’s really about is pent up, unresolved energy. We carry around those experiences that didn’t go as planned. We swallow hard and keep it down. We hold it in. We can’t let others see us sweat, right? We can’t stir things up by directly addressing unpleasant circumstances, can we? We can’t take the blame ourselves for letting our emotions get the best of us; it had to be someone else’s fault, right?
Don’t miss my point: It doesn’t have to be about anger. It can be any number of things that take us off our game and, instead of looking at ourselves, we point elsewhere.
Don’t get taken off your game; instead, keep a few things in mind:
- Know what’s eating at you – don’t bottle up past experiences. Look at and process them. Figure out how you want to move forward, if appropriate – and be committed to whatever direction you take – even if none at all
- Know your goal – it’s much easier to maintain a balanced, well-rounded perspective when you know your bigger picture.
- Know how to breathe when you need it most – no matter how hard you try or how much you think ahead, there will always be surprises, and they will inevitably bring up, at some point, some “old stuff” for you. Know what to do at those moments to regain your perspective; it typically begins by taking the first, deep breath. To be sure, the following breaths get noticeably easier.
Live on Fire!
D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)