Earlier this week, us developers at work got some unfortunate news that a project we were looking forward to was cancelled. The project involved moving a bunch of our application into some new cloud infrastructure, and that had the potential of opening up a lot of new possibilities for our development processes. This was really a nice-to-have, though; our existing infrastructure works great, even if it's not the most modern.
Ultimately there was nothing that any of us could have done to change this; the work was being done by another team, and we were merely along for the ride. The innocent bystander.
While disappointed, most team members took this news fairly well. A select few, however, really seemed to struggle with it, venting their frustrations and their concerns for the future of our product as a whole. They were really focusing on the negative aspects of this announcement.
And I hate to say it, but this really got to me. I could feel my frustration rising. I felt compelled to jump into damage control mode, pointing out that this wasn't a big deal, that corporations cancel initiatives all the time, and we'll adapt to whatever comes next, just as we've always done.
As I reflected on this interaction this morning though, I realized I got worked up for the wrong reasons.
In life, there are things you can control and things you can't. I can't control this project being cancelled. I can't control how my team members react to the news. I can, however, control how I react to the news and the comments made.
Sometimes the hardest thing is to differentiate between the two so you can focus on the things that matter. In The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday writes:
The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can't. [...] Time spent hurling yourself at these immovable objects is time not spent on the things we can change.
I really try to live by this mentality, but I do fail sometimes. But we just pick ourselves up and try again.
I'm not perfect, and I never will be. But that doesn't mean I won't try to be better each and every day.