Friday, October 20, 2017

The Hidden Value of Doing Nothing

Someone I used to be friendly with recently did something I considered really outrageous. I was going to do something about it.

I gave it a great deal of thought. In fact, the night after it happened, I had trouble sleeping. I woke up and went over various scenarios. If I did this? Maybe that would happen. What if I did this other thing? Then this would happen. I didn't really envision a good result no matter which way I turned it over in my mind.

The next day, I was a little tired from lack of sleep. But that evening, I had a moment of utter clarity. What could I do about this outrage? After having gone through all the possible things I could do, and all the possible results I could imagine, I arrived at the perfect solution. I would do nothing whatsoever. There. The problem had gone. The anger had disappeared.

I mean, if people other than I do stupid things, how am I responsible? I can't stop other people from doing stupid things. It's difficult enough to keep myself from doing stupid things. Let me focus on that, and drop this.

The following night I slept like a baby. The problem was gone. It had passed into the ether. There was no consequence, no result--there was nothing. It was perfect. And that was a good thing because I had a whole lot of other things to deal with. I could wake up in the morning and, as soon as I finished doing nothing about this other thing, tackle them directly. And whenever this person contacted me again, I'd get right to work doing even more nothing.

Good things started to happen. I've sent out a bunch of feelers trying to adopt a rescued dog, and someone finally called me back. She had a puppy, she said, half Maltese and half Pekingese. I'm sorry, I told her, but my daughter has allergies and if the puppy were to shed she wouldn't be able to visit us. It's cute, she said. I'm sure it is, I said, but I have to stick with my daughter. She then offered me a bonded pair of Maltese, but I had to turn that down as well since my wife would probably kill me and stuff were I to accept two at a time.

The woman said she was glad to know this. She said she wanted to match the right dog with the right person, that this was good to know and that she'd note it on my file. Did I want a purebred Maltese? I didn't care as long as my daughter didn't have an allergy attack. Once, she did. I took her to an urgent care, where they gave her epinephrine, and then to the ER where we sat around for five hours until they determined she was OK. Hardly my first choice in family visits.

Anyway, I turned down a puppy and still felt good. This doing nothing was working out well. Now I understand it doesn't work in every situation. A friend of mine told me the story of how his principal told him to network. He thought he said to not work, and by February he had a heckuva letter in his file. Now he makes sure to get stuff in writing.

I'll have to make exceptions here and there. But this whole doing nothing thing has endless possibilities. I can see so many situations in which it will be the very best option. And I'd never even considered it before. But this strategy offered me a whole lot of momentous opportunities.

From now on, I plan to take advantage of each and every one.
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