Failure or Success – You Are Still You

Just a few days ago, I started thinking about the changing nature of the economic and technological landscape in the 21st century western world. Or maybe I was just thinking about my changing world…

It’s strange, one day I’m a successful executive, Focused on a 20 year career, working to increase someone’s profits, and yet – and this is the subject of the piece – I now find myself running a nonprofit and delivering packages for a living. 

A job is a job, of course, but this is coming from someone whose job used to involve trips to Asia with an expense account to cover any event, and now I have a job where I struggle to find places to use the bathroom during the day. 

The most interesting part is that I have zero criticism for a nonprofit or courier life and this post is far from a pity party. In fact, it’s just a bunch of philosophical random thoughts. Here’s my first random thought:

Lurching west in stop-and-go traffic on Georgia at 8 in the morning, bound for 725 Granville, and a day of delivering in the rain, I’m having a low moment, dwelling on how far I’d come down in the world. Then I snapped out of it. I haven’t come down in the world. What’s come down in the world is the business model that sustained Canadian Corporations for decades. I’m pretty much the same employee, the same guy. I haven’t gone anywhere. My feet are the same.”

There’s beauty to be found in this thought. Only because I read something today that said, “A rock thrown in the air, it loses nothing by coming down, gained nothing by going up.” This is easy to say, and easy to forget, but it’s an essential bit of perspective that both forwards of ego when things are going well and protects us against depression when we experience setbacks. 

We have to remember that external events, possessions, status markers, achievements don’t change us. An impressive job doesn’t make us an impressive person, just as a bad review doesn’t mean we’re without talent. Having a lot of money doesn’t make us special and not having money doesn’t make us worthless. Up, down, middling along – we are not changed by our status. 

Only our actions and our choices reflect on who we are. Only what we are doing right now in the present moment matters – not the past, not the extrapolated future. And actually not even that – it’s how we are doing what we are doing that matters. Our feet are the same, wherever we are, regardless of the lofty heights we’ve climbed or darkened depths we’ve fallen to. 

Don’t forget that. Because in it is strength and freedom.

Here’s a morning high-five for my nonprofit life and the Vatic Foundation.

By Brian Nadon

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