Life is funny. Funny like when you think things are going terrifically well and you receive a pleasant surprise… then you look at it more closely and realize it’s not pleasant at all. It’s just a surprise, and that maybe, just maybe, you were fooling yourself about how well things had been going all along. So now it’s an unpleasant surprise. Like that big ol’ vat of internal B.S. that powers us and keeps our egos on top of the world starts overflowing and we slowly disconnect from the reality of a situation and everything looks so grand and sweet… meanwhile things are what they are and they are going the way they go. Disaster lurks in that gap between perception and reality and the bigger the gap, the bigger the disaster. Mind the gap…

The question I put to you, dear reader, is: how do you prevent that happening or even catch yourself when you’re doing it? How do you reality check yourself? This is where having good friends can come in handy. A good friend will say you’re crazy and otherwise question whatever nonsense is streaming out of you. Acquaintances and strangers are much less reliable in that regard. They’ll let you bury yourself. They’re pretty much only interested in what you can do for them. Usually in a very short-term to mid range context. The converse is equally true. People who are only interested in what you can do for them or how you can make them feel right now are not your friends. And I’m not talking about one of those special times in life when your friends really need support, I mean on any day of the week that suits them.

Regularly I used to go through my mental list of new “friends” and sort them into people who I would do most anything to keep near me (thereby giving fair trade on the relationship and putting them in the Real Friends pile) and people who are just floating around me with agendas I don’t even partially appreciate. I’d like to think I’m getting better at filtering out the latter but every now and again I start skipping along in my own dream world and I leave that door open… only to wind up confused and disappointed. Again. I think of it as a repeat self-inflicted gun shot wound, “I really should’ve known better; this always happens!” but as many smarter than I have pointed out, control is an illusion and some days I’m gonna’ get tripped up.

Which brings me to a point I’m reminded of in my personal and professional life as well as, on a slightly grander scale, the country’s economy. At some point you’re going to fail. You can worry about it night and day you can close up all the loopholes and it’s still going to happen, just in a way you couldn’t predict. The key is to have systems for recovery in place so that you fail well. By which I mean being robust enough to take the blow, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take the time to acknowledge what went wrong and how you feel about it, and fix it if you can. If you can’t, eh, there’s nothing to do about it and there’s bound to be something else coming around the corner. Maybe something good… 🙂

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