J.D. “Jim” Fox, Head Coach, Next Act Coaching
Bet you’ve already forgotten the failed terrorist bombing in New York. I live just six blocks from where the sad sack mostly hurt himself, so it will stick with me a while.
It could have easily gone another way. I was also here when the big one – 9/11 – happened.
September 11, 2001, was a beautiful day, weather-wise. It was also Primary Election Day, so I started my day at my neighborhood polling site. It certainly didn’t occur to me to look south for a huge plume of smoke as I headed for the subway.
Everything changed by the time I got to my office at Columbia Law School (I was the communications director).
Someone had unlocked the door to my office — I had the only TV on the floor, for news monitoring — and many of my colleagues were inside.
As a former reporter, it took me about 10 seconds to size up the situation and say, “this probably isn’t the only strike.” Tragically, that gut call was correct.
Remember what happened next: federalization of airport security, doubling of the defense budget, and a brand-new Mideast war. For me personally, some on the tenured faculty called me “too aggressive” when I suggested we take the lead on a public discussion of national security versus civil liberties.
Fast-forward to now: another incident, this one by a lone nut instead of a coordinated cell. It’s just one of several we’ve endured since 9/11 — the recent mow-down on a downtown bike path did take innocent lives — but we trudge on.
The point I want to make as a coach? Humans are very adaptable. Our contemporary survival skills, at least where I live, include the ability to swallow and move on.
What’s critical, I think, is to distinguish those you have to swallow versus those that do and should make you choke.
Think about identifying the latter, and removing them from your life, as we rush through the holidays and into the New Year.