Yesterday, I learned something about my husband that changed me. We are both entrepreneurs and share a home office. He runs his wholesale organic pizza business from the right side of the long work table, and I run my media company from the left.
There are certainly downsides to a couple sharing an office—for example, I have to retreat to the laundry room to take a call when Chris is already on the phone. And Chris prefers to have a clean desktop, but mine reflects my free-flowing creative nature vis-à-vis the piles of crap all over the place. Needless to say, it drives him crazy.
As Chris works, he has an intense focus about him and he tends to ruminate on every decision. Even though I know this about him, I can’t help but feel his serious vibe pulling me down, so I prod him as we work:
“Is everything OK?”
“Can I do anything to help you?”
I’m sure it’s irritating because 99 percent of the time he replies, “Nothing is wrong, I’m just thinking.” The problem is, Chris is usually thinking about what could go wrong (before anything has) and thinking about how he would fix it (if it does happen). So much so, I’ve nicknamed him “half-empty.”
Yesterday however, something was different about him. He was smiling and laughing on his phone calls. The vibe in the office was definitely lighter. I complimented him on the difference it was making in my day and asked him what was up.
“I feel free,” he said.
“Free? Free from what?” I asked.
“It’s not free from…. It’s a freedom with.”
Chris explained that he remembered something his Uncle Bill had told him when he was 8 years old. They were crossing a small inlet between islands in the Georgian Bay up in Canada, and Chris was worrying about hitting one of the large rocks beneath the surface and capsizing. His uncle looked at him and said, “Chris, I’ve been driving a boat around this bay for years and yes, something bad might happen, but it usually doesn’t.”
Chris explained to me that he realized that running a growing restaurant business may be more complicated than driving a boat across an inlet, but “I’ve been doing it for six years now. I’ve worried the whole time that something bad might happen. And my uncle is right—it usually doesn’t. Besides, if it does, I’ll likely know how to deal with it. You could say I have gained a freedom with uncertainty.”
I realized something freeing from that conversation, as well. Whether you are a “half-empty” person like Chris or a “half-full” person like me, we all worry. And when you worry, you are definitely not as powerful as you could be.
What if you became free from the worry? Try a new tactic—instead of worrying or thinking about what might happen, adopt Uncle Bill’s mantra: “Something bad might happen, but it usually doesn’t.”
I’ve been using the line all day. Turns out, freedom is very liberating.