The 90% rule

May 21, 2020

This column is being written on day three of my mandated work-from-home status because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In last month’s column I referenced COVID-19, expressing my gratitude that I got to attend BICSI’s Winter Conference before the virus’s tidal waves (not ripples) reached North America. At the time I wrote that column, I had no idea of the seismic changes the U.S. would see just weeks later.

The pandemic is not the only topic of conversation for me on a daily basis. But honestly, it’s the only topic I’m really thinking about. I’m carrying on best I can—participating in meetings, researching technical topics, reporting on standards developments, hosting the online seminars that many of you attend … thank you for that. But for me, those activities amount to temporary distractions, because anytime my mind is idle, it reverts back to what’s happening around the world with this pandemic.

Yet, you’re reading this because we at Cabling Installation & Maintenance continue to operate quite normally as a business. The way we’re working has changed for sure, and I imagine I’ll get more used to it as the weeks go on—because I expect we’ll be operating this way for a number of weeks. But thanks largely to the cloud-based technologies that your expertise enables, we’re carrying on. What I wonder, though, is how you’re doing. We all have our hopes for what will happen in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. But much like the cliché that change is the only constant, in our world today, uncertainty is the only certainty. You’ve worked hard for the business or the career or the credentials that you’ve earned. You deserve for that effort to continue paying off with a fruitful professional life. I wish I could guarantee you that would be the case. I wish anyone could.

The first time I flew on an airplane, I was a junior in high school taking a trip to our nation’s capital for a week of intense study of how our government works. I was nervous about flying. A group of nuns boarded the plane, and one must have sensed that I was uneasy, because she said, “You know, 90% of your worries never come true.” Being the smart-aleck teenager I was, I responded, “Yeah, well, I’ve already worried about 9 other things today.” I’ve thought back to that moment many times. While I doubt the kindhearted woman had any statistical evidence to back up her 90% claim, her intention was sincere and her approach was effective.

The other expression I sometimes use is this: Worrying won’t take away any of tomorrow’s problems; it will only take away today’s happiness. Regardless of your professional circumstances, I hope you find some happiness today. And please, don’t let worrying about tomorrow take away that happiness.        

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