Maybe So, Maybe Not

Once there was a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbors told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.”

“Maybe so, maybe not,” the farmer replied.

But one day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran away. “Oh no! That is terrible news!” his neighbors cried. “Such bad luck!”

“Maybe so, maybe not,” the farmer said.

A few days later the horse returned, bringing with it six wild horses. “How fantastic! You are so lucky,” his neighbors told him.

“Maybe so, maybe not,” the farmer answered.

The following week the farmer’s son was breaking-in one of the wild horses when it threw him to the ground, and he broke his leg. “Oh no!” the neighbors shouted. “Such bad luck, all over again!”

“Maybe so, maybe not,” the farmer responded.

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through the town, recruiting all of the boys and young men. They did not take the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg. The neighbors shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “We’ll see. Maybe so, maybe not.”

Building on last week’s topic of Perspective, this ancient tale — of the Taoist Farmer — is an early illustration of Context.

It’s not only *how* we view our lives and businesses, but what we are actually seeing. It’s so easy to be convinced that that which is right in front of us equals something certain. But life is organic and in flux. And really only has a particular value in relation to something else.

So rather than get caught up in whether the deal closes or not, or attached to whether or not the client or customer hires you or your firm or company, for your product or service, keep your focus on higher ground. Aim at what you are most committed to but try not to grip too tightly to the specific path to get there.

If you desperately needed to get to the hospital in order to reach a loved one and provide support, traffic wouldn’t matter. A flat tire wouldn’t matter. A closed road wouldn’t matter. You would find a way to get there in one way shape or form.

Consider that in business the destination is growth. You may get a “flat tire,” when a particular meeting or conversation doesn’t yield immediate results. But don’t let it deter your arrival. It’s possible that just like that farmer in the parable lost his horse one day but then gained six more, maybe you lose a sale or client or referral today. But a new opportunity for wealth is right around the corner.

Head for higher ground, keep your eye on what really matters, and keep taking action in that direction to get there.

It is really impossible to tell whether anything that happens is ultimately good or bad. We never know what the consequences of misfortune or good fortune will be, as only time will tell the whole story. Things may look great at the start, but over time it may not become what you had imagined it to be. Similarly, you may feel bad about something, but some day it could be one of the best things that happened to you.

Everything changes. The universe is ever changing. There is no room for harsh judgment, only confidence in self, hope for others, and faith in the grander scheme.

Will you arrive tomorrow? Maybe so, maybe not.

But will you get there eventually? I think we all know… of course you will.

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