Guest Post by Mark Sanborn
It was my first trip to Rome and I was excited. I’d finally made the time to visit one of the cities of my dreams. The cab let me out in front of the Hotel Eliseo, near the Via Veneto. The reception desk manager checked me in and assigned me to a room on the first floor.
“Do you have a room with a view?” I queried. He paused, deliberated purposefully and let me know in no uncertain terms that he was doing me a great favor by giving me a room on the fifth floor. “A panoramic view!” he exclaimed.
The bell cap helped me get my bags to the room. I walked to the balcony and took in a breathtaking view of the city of room. It couldn’t have been lovelier.
Suddenly I heard a noise I can only liken to a violent earthquake. And it was coming from the wall behind the headboard of my bed. A great shaking, rumbling and gnashing of steel. It was the elevator equipment, located in the next room over. Every time somebody pushed the elevator button, I was treated to that monstrous sound.
And then I realized: what a metaphor for life! The perfect view accompanied by the elevator shaft. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, side by side.
Some people try to deny the elevator shafts in life, but that is hard to do. They make themselves known and pretending they aren’t there doesn’t change anything.
Other people never notice the panoramic view. They can’t get past the noise the elevator is making.
Neither denial nor negativity serves us well. Wisdom accepts the good and the bad but chooses to pay more attention to the good. Wise travelers in life don’t dismiss the bad. If they can do something about it, they do. But if they can’t, they don’t bemoan what they can’t affect.
It isn’t that we get the view or the shaft; most of the time we get both. But you and I choose which we focus on.
That’s what I think Paul was writing about in Philippians 4:8 when he said, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
I find it interesting that he didn’t say, “Don’t think about anything negative” or “Think only on these things.” Often we need to look at what’s going on around us—the good, the bad and everything in-between–to be informed. But Paul says the emphasis should be on what’s right, not what’s wrong.
If he had the same hotel room in Rome, he might have said, “Look at that view and appreciate the grandeur of the creation!” I don’t think he would have carped about the elevator nearby.
Life is a good bit like the view next to the elevator. You get to choose whether you dwell on the scenery or the shaft.
|Mark Sanborn is the President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development.
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