I watch such little television these days that for me to comment on something from the boob tube is an anomaly. But as I kept my wife company the other night watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on the TiVo, I heard something that resonated that I wanted to share. Because I am sure that even though many of us aren’t doctors, we have all felt this way at least once in our lifetimes…
I apologize in advance if I describe the circumstances inaccurately; however, I was actually reading at the time and only partially paying attention to the story line. The character of Christina, played by Sandra Oh, was in a tough situation of having to decide which of two children, siblings, would receive a heart transplant and which would receive an artificial heart. The parents, reasonably enough, could not make the decision of selecting one of their children to live and one to die, so they insisted that Christina make the decision. Despite the fact that Christina felt that she had made the correct decision, it nevertheless resulted in the death of one of the kids, with the parents understandably distraught, taking their misery out on Christina.
We next see Christina, fully clothed, standing in the shower, trying to deal with the pain and heartache of what had just happened. Her husband/former husband (who remembers?) tries to assuage her despondency by telling her that she made the right decision, but she will not be placated and says, “What’s the point, Owen? What’s the point of anything?”
We all have, at some point in time, done our very best job, but the anticipated results just simply did not transpire. An argument that we made that fell on the deaf ears of a judge; an investment that tanked despite all signs of it being a safe bet; the agreement that was not as bullet-proof as one had anticipated. While you can never expect results, there is an expectation that when we give 100%, we will be rewarded. And that frankly isn’t always the case. The vagaries of the justice system, the unpredictability of the markets, and simply the fates having their way, can disrupt the best laid and performed plans.
And we are inevitably left wondering why we do it. What’s the point…? If we are going to give it our best efforts, do the very best job we can, then dammit, don’t we deserve to be rewarded for that? Don’t we deserve to get the results we want and expect to get? Shouldn’t the patient live? Shouldn’t the judge make the right decision? Shouldn’t our clients be happy?
When you consider how many factors can affect any type of an endeavor, you realize that you can only control yourself, you cannot control the unknowns. You cannot control how the wind blows. Just like in golf—you take your stance, give it your best swing, the swing that has been perfected over thousands of hours on the driving range, and you connect with the ball just right, the tuning fork goes off in your arms and the ball is flying right for the middle of the green… when a gust of wind comes from nowhere and pushes it off course. No amount of planning or preparation could have saved that shot which just careered into the rough.
So what do you do? Do you mope and whine and give it all up? Do you throw a tantrum or punch a hole in the wall?
When I was playing baseball as a kid I remember distinctly being told that at the end of the game, I was supposed to go home, look in the mirror, and ask myself if I did the very best job that I could do. And if the answer was yes, then it didn’t matter if I went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts or 4-4 with 2 home runs. What mattered was that I was able to look myself in the mirror and ask myself that question and get a positive answer. It’s only when you fail to give it your all that you have reason for dismay. Sure you can be upset about a result and sure you can have clients who are irate, but as long as you can look yourself in the mirror and state with conviction that you gave it your very best try, then that should be all that matters.
We have all been in Christina’s position. We have all questioned if we are doing the right thing, if it’s all worth it; if it’s worth the sacrifices and the hours of time and the stress and the pressure. The only person who can answer that is you. If you gave it 100% and the result just wasn’t what was expected or anticipated, then you can absolutely be upset. And you can absolutely be troubled. But you shouldn’t be troubled or upset with yourself. The vagaries of our systems are simply a breeding ground for unpredictability. What’s the saying about the best laid plans?
But I guarantee that if you continue to give it that 100%, the bad results will be few and far between. And the rewards will greatly trump the disappointments.