“Everything seems to be snatched away from me, right under my nose! That’s why I can’t do anything right. Like I’m swimming in a dark pool of muddy water, unable to see anything around me,” a young businessman told me, his leg twitching nervously.
“The only way to clear the muddy water is to still yourself and wait.”
“I’m trying my hardest, but the hardest I try, the worse it gets.”
“Do you remember the old rubber duck we all played with in the shallow water when we were kids? The more wildly we flailed about to get it, the further away from us it would float. The waves we created would push the duck away, even though it was exactly the opposite of what we wanted it do to. Only after we got really tired, or perhaps started to cry and the little tired hands dropped, did the little rubber duck come back to us. Still yourself! Let the rough seas in your life calm down.”
“But I need this deal right away!”
“How do you know that? Are you aware of all the circumstances surrounding the deal you want so badly? Or it’s just your own wish that you know so well, shaped by your impatient ego?”
“I don’t know, I don’t… But I did my absolute best to start that business, I got the people going, invested a lot, but things just won’t go my way. I can’t shake off the feeling that someone will swipe the deal right from under my nose,” he was describing his situation as if it was really a matter of life and death. It’s not often that I came across such vehemence.
You should always ask yourself this: Is this the right time for what I want? Is this what my ego wants, or what my soul wants?
I wanted to buy a flat. Quite unexpectedly, I found a beautiful one, and it was exactly what I wanted. Circumstances seemed to have fallen into place to make my wish come true. There were absolutely no hiccups along the way, and everything went much faster than it normally would. In such situations, I am the exact opposite of impatience, trying to sense if it’s the right time or it’s just the ego whispering into my ear. I was doing my research very carefully, as if touching a freshly painted wall in that apartment, tapping all over its smooth surface to find even the tiniest crevice in the wall, and use it to either knock the wall down or build a better one for myself. Everyone was telling me I was being silly, prolonging a perfect situation and nitpicking for no good reason. As luck would have it, a man working for a road building company came to my office, and spontaneously started to talk about the company’s plans. Completely taken aback, I realised that a six-lane national highway was about to be built right under my new windows. I stopped the purchase process that same day.
Don’t make your decisions too quickly. Ever.
When things don’t happen soon enough, I always say to myself: Perhaps the universe is saving me from something.
I travelled to Bosnia once, to give a lecture there. My best friend was driving, and I was giving him directions, because I knew the route very well. Following a sudden impulse, I told him to turn the car to a border crossing I normally didn’t use. Just a coincidence? A customs officer asked us politely to open the boot for inspection. It didn’t happen very often, but I could see that all the vehicles in the queue were inspected, too, and I wasn’t upset. We got out of the car. Another customs officer approached, and started a casual conversation with me. Having realised what my calling was, he confined in me and asked for advice. When I was leaving, he told me, “Hadn’t you come this way, my body would have floated face down in the Drina river tonight.”
I was beyond happy for having left in my wake a man with a new hope in life. My driving companion was pretty nervous about the 45-minute delay at the border crossing, but there was another one in store for us, near Sarajevo. I asked a police officer what was the reason for the delay, and he told me that exactly 45 minutes before a multiple traffic accident had happened, killing many. We looked at each other, thanking silently the customs officers for having held us up and, perhaps, saved our lives!
Never judge the universe, especially not in advance!
The young man listened to me very carefully, his leg no longer twitching.
“Remember, impatience blocks everything!” I told him, having shared a personal example.
I asked him to give himself more time, to stop splashing around in the shallow water and wait for his rubber duck to come back. He called me a week later.
“I wanted to give up many times, but I was keeping the promise. I did what you told me to do. I merely wanted a full week to go by to make sure you’re clueless, and never call you again. After five days I heard that the manager I had been negotiating with was arrested. Had I accepted the deal, I would have been in prison, through no fault of my own. I thank the universe and you, whom I hated so much for forcing me to wait some more. When can I see you again?”
There’s an old Japanese saying that to go fast means to go slowly without interruptions! Or, as the Serbs say, all things come to those who wait!