A Hidden Superpower

Man smashing ground
Photo by Lopez Robin on Unsplash

I learned a lot doing the research for my new book, Ask: How to Relate to Anyone.

Here’s one valuable lesson you may find helpful: I like to divide my life into two buckets – things I can control and things I can’t. I try to focus on the former and spend as little time as possible on the latter.

The stock market

I have no control over the stock market.  Its direction will largely depend on unexpected news that isn’t already factored into the price of stocks and bonds.  No one knows what that news will be, which is why you should ignore pundits making predictions.  If they are right, they’re lucky.  They don’t have any predictive expertise.

A better strategy for managing your investments is dealing with those factors you can control:  Your asset allocation; global diversification; tax efficiency; and keeping fees and costs as low as possible.  If you can’t do this yourself, hire an investment advisor to assist you.

Your health

I have no control over the number of people who will be infected with the Covid-19 virus, who will recover and who won’t.  I also don’t know if or when an effective treatment or vaccine will be found and deployed.

I do control whether I practice social distancing and follow the other recommendations of the CDC.  I can’t eliminate the possibility of getting infected, but I can skew the odds.

Your superpower

Humans are an incredibly adaptable species.  Our brains have the ability (known as “plasticity”) to adjust in response to changed circumstances.

The current pandemic provided countless examples of our adaptability.  In a remarkably short time, most companies were able to transition to working remotely – a development many predict will have long-term ramifications.

Other businesses changed radically to stay afloat.  Restaurants became take-out venues.  Fitness centers switched to online classes.  Grocery stores responded to a massive increase in demand for home delivery.  Individuals learned to sew their own face masks and even make them for others. 

Acts of kindness are too many to recite.  Some reached out to those living alone.  Others taught them technical skills so they can use videoconferencing to stay connected.  Still others have organized phone calls, just to check on the health of friends and loved ones.  A crisis can bring out the best in us.

Adaptability is our superpower.  Now is the time to use it.