I am regularly struck by how often in the last few years I look back at wisdom or lessons that were given to me in my younger life, that take on new meaning.  With the years of experience and learning that I have enjoyed, many of these “truisms” take on a very different meaning.  One of my favorites, that I have shared with many in the past is from my father. His favorite saying was “Tempus Fugit”, or time flies. Until just after he died 13 years ago, it always evoked my need to work hard and fast, to not waste time but get “it” done. After he died it occurred to me that it also could mean “life is short enjoy every minute”. A subtle but powerful shift, and very different lesson.

This morning I was reading a reminder about intentionally keeping our focus on what we can control and letting go of outcomes.  We can keep a direction and goals in mind, allow those goals to influence our actions, but not get so obsessed with outcomes that are outside our control. It is my understanding of the mindfulness practice of surrender. We do not give up trying, we still put forth strategic and intense effort, yet we do not let our ego get caught up in the outcome.  As I pondered that this morning- BOOM! I recalled an influential pearl of wisdom that I learned in 1994 from a client when I was a young commercial real estate broker:

“Let’s not confuse activity with results.” 

At the time and for decades following, I embraced and used that concept of obsessive focus on results and not allowing myself or my team to get distracted. It became a cornerstone of my leadership style (as many of those on my teams can attest to-cue eye rolls). Today I see that while it was a great management tool it came at a cost.  I see the flip side and the costs of too much emphasis on only results. Today I see that perhaps that client was actually trying to give me a very different gift:

Do not get distracted by what you cannot control. Stay focused on your own values and thinking, and the actions that you can take.

I am fortunate to have enjoyed a long professional career and been exposed to many wise people. To them I want to say THANK YOU for all that you taught or tried to teach me, even when it may have taken me decades to appreciate it.