Focus on life’s handles | TravelResearchOnline


Focus on life’s handles

Last week, Richard Earls had a great column (go ahead…click the link and read…I’ll wait) about problems faced by his various businesses throughout his career. The end result was that they always seemed to come back to him. And he’s good with it. One sentence struck me, “When you blame others, you give up a powerful force for change: yourself.”  13 simple words with some powerful meaning. And then I began to think.

Many years ago, I was listening to a keynote speaker discussing how to handle problems when they come your way. It was so long ago, that I cannot remember if it was a travel related conference, or just a personal growth type of event, but his message still resonates with me today; and in fact, I often tell the story.

Boom. It hit me like a rock. Focus on the handles in life.

The speaker went through the ups and downs of his own life and how desolate and desperate he was at one point—you know typical keynote banter from the Keynote 101 handbook. And then he did something unexpected and different.

He started to juggle as he spoke. Tennis balls, fruit, and even a few bowling balls went up in the air in magical arcs. I was impressed—chewing gum and walking has presented challenges for me in the past.

And as he wrapped up his 30 minutes, he pulled out three swords and began to juggle them. He tossed in one of the oranges from before and sliced it in half. Threw up and apple and swashbuckled it into two, and ended the presentation on an odd, yet somewhat incomplete note.

The crowd politely applauded, like it tells us to do in Keynote Listening 101; and when the applause died down, he remained there. “So, do you ever cut yourself with the swords?” someone yelled from the audience. And as I learned later, he was waiting for this moment to pounce. (He told me afterwards that eventually if he stands there in silence long enough someone will shout it out.)

Let me paraphrase for a moment. “Hell yes I got cut. When I first started, my fingers, palms, wrists and arms looked like a crash test dummy for a Ginsu knife commercial. And it hurt. And then it dawned on me that the blades were only doing their job. They were fabricated to cut stuff.”

At this point he dramatically sliced a piece of paper, a cigarette, and an apple which he ate.

“But then it dawned on me. I was never going to be able to change what the blades were designed to do. BUT, if I focused on the handles, I COULD determine where the blades went.”

Boom. It hit me like a rock. Focus on the handles in life.

I am not going to be able to control the weather, but I can control how I dress for it. I am not going to be able to control COVID-19, but I can control what I do to keep safe and my clients safe. I am not able to control what my clients feel or fear, but I am able to present them with solid, well-reasoned opinion and information. I am not able to counter the effects of the economic damage to my business, but I can tweak and modify my business to make sure it survives.

As you go through life, remember that there are always blades and handles. Focus on the handles!

PS: And if anyone has ever seen this guy speak, please send me his name or website. I looked for a video high and wide, but came up dry!


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