You Don’t Get To Pick

I had the amazing opportunity to visit with a class of business students at Oklahoma Baptist University last Friday. I love talking with college students. They are intense, brave, curious, and not easy to impress. They will listen to what you have to say, but they will question you too and make up their own minds. I always grow when I’m around younger minds.

At the beginning of the class, the professor, Dr. Rudebock, randomly selected one of the students to come to the front of the class and present a concise brief on a current topic and its business implications. He told me that he does this every class period and if a student is called and is unprepared, they are asked to leave class. I immediately thought this would be a great idea for business meetings.

“Here’s a rule of life: You don’t get to pick what bad things happen to you.”

Rory Miller

You don’t get to pick what happens to you, but you can be prepared. Sometimes preparation involves having tangible items in reserve (think cash, toilet paper, ammo). Sometimes, being prepared is more about our mental readiness. It’s the mental readiness part I would like to talk about.

Every Tuesday, the executive team at Kimray gets together for lunch and a meeting. Over lunch, we usually do a short Bible study, but last Tuesday I asked everyone to do something different. I sent an email that morning asking the team to prepare to “share something they learned or changed that was positive during this past year.” COVID created an enormous amount of change, and much of it was negative. I wanted to see if we could reflect on things that were positive about the same situation.

I was very pleased with the responses. In addition to being grateful for time with family and, for some, an opportunity to slow down a little, these were some of the answers:

  • Increased appreciation for the importance of being with people.
  • Self-reflection that led to greater awareness.
  • Realizing and accepting that we are not in control.
  • Learning that “different” is not “bad”.
  • Learning that caring about other people means respecting their feelings about a situation.
  • Finding new sources of creativity brought to the surface by necessity.

Do you see the common themes? Appreciation, awareness, acceptance, learning, creativity. These are all ways to be mentally (and emotionally) prepared for change. They are ways that lead to finding opportunity where others find loss. They are choices we can make when faced with things we didn’t pick.

The young lady that came up to the front of Rudebock’s class Friday morning was prepared. She looked at the stream of current events (I think she referenced Insta and Twitter) and saw it through the eyes of a businessperson and an athlete and a woman and a student. Her preparation became an opportunity for everyone else in the class to see that issue through her eyes and learn something they may not have by looking through their own.

We don’t get to pick the things that happen to us, bad or good, but we can choose to be prepared mentally and emotionally (and physically) to gain from them. If we choose to find opportunity in everything that happens, we can gain valuable new ways to see the world around us—ways that open us to possibilities even when things appear to be “bad.” In a community where everyone is prepared to find the good in people and situations there is always hope. We may not get to pick the bad things that happen to us, but we do get to pick being ready to find the positive, and that is the Kimray Way.