There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
-- Benjamin Zander

Author/conductor Ben Zander’s quotation flashed through my mind when I had to cancel a day of work thanks to a nor’easter that blew though Portsmouth in January.

As forecasters made their blizzard predictions, my mood grew cloudier. O, for heaven’s sake! We’ve got fourteen people coming. I can’t believe this! Stupid, stupid weather!

My agitated state persisted for several days, until I stopped and took a good look at myself - how uncentered I’d become and how attacked I felt - by the weather! I recognized the feelings of anger and helplessness: every time I organize a workshop, travel by air, or plan anything the weather might interrupt, I spend hours glued to the Weather Channel, my equanimity dependent on something I can’t control.

The difference? This time I saw the pattern. Look at yourself, Judy. You teach this stuff! It’s the weather! I felt utterly foolish - complaining, ranting, and relinquishing the only power I had - the power to change me. And I stopped. Cold. That’s it. I’m not doing it any more. And if you live in New England, you know I’ve had ample practice opportunities this year!

The weather is a wonderful teacher because it’s obvious and relentless. But what about our not so obvious teachers, such as challenging coworkers or family? If only they would change. Right?

Is trying to change people any different from wishing away the weather? Just like weather, people only change according to their schedule and because they’re motivated to do so. Not because you wish it.

When I find myself complaining, I take it as a sign that I’ve surrendered my power to someone or something I can’t control. I consider the options I do have, which puts me back I the driver’s seat:

1. Do nothing and continue to complain – okay, it’s fun, but does it solve anything?
2. Change my thinking so that the conflict no longer bothers me. This is what I now do with the weather. I change my mind.
3. Engage the energy. Talk to the person and explain the impact of their behavior - on you, the team, family, or environment. Listen for their positive intention, and help them see what might be in it for them to change.
4. Call for help - get a coach, mediator, therapist, minister, or friend to help you work through the conflict (on your own or with the other person).

The point is to know you have options. "Ki" is energy, power, life force. I often define Ki Moments as those moments in which you are fully aware of your life force and your power to influence your environment. Find your power. Don’t give it away to every emotional nor’easter that passes through.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict. She provides conflict and communication training throughout North America with unique workshops based on mind/body principles from the martial art aikido, in which she holds a second degree black belt. Employing best practice communication models, Judy brings to life key concepts such as self-management under pressure and appreciation of other viewpoints. Her programs are interactive, experiential and energetic.