Shop Life Columnists

Taking Control—Or Not

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Internally here at FenderBender, we have an image that gets sent back and forth frequently: It’s the graffiti artist Banksy’s mural of a girl releasing a red, heart-shaped balloon. To be clear, it started as a joke, but receiving that photo has become synonymous with a clear message: Let it go.

Unfortunately, this is something at which I’m terrible. A quick list of some of my worst traits: an insane need for justice, worry wart, perfectionist tendencies, decidedly not zen; all of which make dealing with life’s uncertainties and changes super easy!

Fortunately for me, 2019 has been an exercise in constant change. I say “fortunately” because, while it’s a year I’m happy to leave behind, I now fundamentally understand just how much we can’t control. And, frankly, it’s a huge relief. 

It doesn’t matter how much we prepare, how closely we follow the rulebook, what “should” happen or what we think we deserve—life happens.

That might sound depressing, but it’s not meant to be; it just is what it is. Accepting that means relief from exhausting yourself on things you can’t control. Here’s what we do have control over: our outlook, our reactions, our ability to be resilient and adapt. 

I’ve always disliked the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because it’s not true. Tough times can wreck you; in fact, it’s often the easier choice to become hardened and bitter. But what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger, if you choose that outlook. History is full of examples of people who have transcended even the most extreme circumstances (if you need a push, I suggest Man’s Search for Meaning, about author Viktor Frankl’s experience in Nazi concentration camps). Neuroscience even suggests we can actually rewire our brains to increase our capacity for resilience and positivity.

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect and look forward. So, let me ask you: What do you need to let go of? Is there something you’re fighting that you might be better off accepting (doesn’t mean you have to like it!) and looking at from a different perspective? How much mental bandwidth would you free up? Every month in FenderBender, we feature dozens of shop owners who excel in a variety of ways but all have one quality in common: an ability to let go of the past and move forward, almost always successfully. 

Now that I’m super zen, I’ll leave you with this: Everything is impermanent. The industry is always changing. Don’t let your old habits and beliefs get in the way of your future success. 

Anna Zeck

Editorial Director


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