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Perspective and tranquility

Is the glass half empty or half full?George Carlin once quipped: “Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.” Much depends on our perspective.

As a coworker of mine, who served 20 years in the Army, shared with me during a particularly tough day: “I’m just glad I get to drive home without worrying about being bombed.”  He reminds me often that stress is a choice—we can choose either to pick it up and carry it around, or to put it down. And that chance or circumstance should not drive our joy.

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:6: “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” When we start feeling especially grateful for what we have, we often look up and lament our neighbor having even more. During these moments, challenge yourself. Look away, breathe deeply, and reflect on all that you have been given.

Aside from working one year as an assistant — fresh out of college in Gainesville — I have been with Allen & Company my entire career. Five kids later and on the verge of reaching age 40, I find myself reflecting much Tranquil Stonesmore than I used to. How do I make the second half of my journey even better than the first?

My work ethic comes primarily from my dad, an engineer, who recently retired at the age of 66. He grew up in Pittsburgh… and it shows. He is early to rise, always works hard, has a hard time saying no, and hates to let anyone down.

Some combination of God’s grace, luck, hard work, good fortune, and great clients has brought me to this stage of my career. I find myself at an inflection point with one handful (maybe two) depending on my perspective. But I know for certain that for the second half of my life and career to be fruitful, I must not cling too tightly to what I have been given. Else, I will leave no room for tranquility in the other hand.

My favorite teacher at Mulberry High School taught her students about “The Hero’s Journey”, detailed by Joseph Campbell. She referred to a life-altering change in perspective as an epiphany: when one’s focus shifts from “I” to “thou.”  Of course, I am no hero — but I am infused with a fresh perspective and a vibrant desire to bless clients, associates, friends, family, and those in need more in the second half of my life than the first. My A Long Roadwealth and income have grown and now, giving must be elevated to its proper place. 

It has been richly rewarding to observe and help many of my clients do the same.

April 2020

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