Called Out in the Dark

It’s like we just can’t help ourselves.
‘Cause we don’t know how to back dow-ow-ow-ow-own.

How often do song lyrics resonate with you?

And not – or not just – in an oh-I-wish-I-was-living-that-idyllic-life kind of a way?

More like: ‘oh, I never thought of it that way before!

For me, lyrics resonate this way; and often, at that.

One such song is Called Out in the Dark, by Snow Patrol. They are an Irish band, and – full disclosure – my favourite band on earth. I refer to their songs as poetry set to music. Good, old fashioned, peppy, poppy music. But I digress.

Being Called Out in the Dark is one of the most profound, problematic and hard to admit obstacles to business, relationship and life success.

Getting ourselves into the proverbial quicksand or soup, fumbling around in the dark and then failing — or stubbornly refusing — to be self-aware enough to recognize it.

I’ve often used the old catch phrase that discretion is the better part of valour. And I have been similarly enamoured of a line from Salman Rushdie’s book, Fury: Don’t meet disaster half-way.

These are strategy and relationship advice cousins of being Called Out in the Dark, with important and nuanced differences – I’ll come back to them in future posts.

But for today, back to the message I’m taking from the poppy Irish poets.

Good strategy is essential to the successful and profitable execution of any ‘plan’ – a marketing plan, sales plan, financial plan and the core business plan from which these are all derived.

Similarly, maintaining and strengthening key relationships in both our personal and professional lives is essential to a harmonious and joyful life, and at its root the key to happiness.

So what happens, then, to trigger us being Called Out in the Dark (such an evocative image, that) in key business and personal dealings?

Is it really “…’cause we don’t know how to back down“? Can it be that simple? That simplistic?

Well, maybe not entirely…but mostly.

It has been said that I have a short fuse. It’s true. Like a lot of people, I recognize it and work (with, at best, modest success) toward changing it.

For me, that’s when I’m most readily Called Out in the Dark.

And in those moments I can get just as lost, feel just as alone and helpless and in search of a lighted path back as the next person. Maybe moreso, truth be told.

A friend of mine once told me that 8 out of 10 times when we’re angry, or frustrated, we’re actually angry/frustrated at ourselves.

I was pretty incredulous when he said that to me 10 years ago, too – as I’m sure you are as you read this now.

Surely the world-writ-large is more to ‘blame’ than I am? Surely, flawed human that I am, my anger/frustration is justified more than a minority of times…isn’t it?

Because in this world there are some people who are…just…well…annoying. And difficult. And infuriating. And lots of other adjectives.

It is true. Those people exist.

And they populate our workplaces, our neighbourhoods and sometimes our homes.

But as I’ve thought about my friend’s observation over sushi that decade ago…I’ve found it to be a home truth of the highest order.

What good does it do, then, to focus solely on those other people? How much power, influence or authority do we have to change or alter them or their behaviour, when it comes right down to it?

That business associate sitting across the table as the counter-party in our negotiation — how is chalking her up as difficult going to help us meet our interests and get to a sustainable agreement? To get the deal done?

That friend/colleague/spouse who just always has to do that thing (you know the thing!) that they do that sends you for a loop every time…how does spending our time wringing our hands at them get us anywhere?

We can choose to spend our time that way. And being more human than the next guy, I do this all-too-often.

It is, after all, our life. And we are, whether we like or accept it or not, making choices.

So going back to that accountability — that 8 out of 10 times when we actually have some quarrel with ourselves — the question becomes what is our part in this dyad or situation?

Wittingly or unwittingly, we are being Called Out in the Dark.

Becoming comfortable with that is one strategy. Getting used to using our night vision is both necessary and can be effective — but only for so long and in certain kinds of light.

At the times when we have a supermoon like this week – we can turn that darkness to our advantage. But those supermoons come along only so often. Fumbling around in unpredictable darkness is hardly a strategy for long-term success or happiness.

Since we’re human, no amount of ingenuity will stop that from happening.

We will, inevitably, be Called Out in the Dark.

It’s what we do about it when it happens that matters.

Where we direct our energy.

What (or maybe, who) we seek to change.

Because in the end, as the song goes on to say, this is your life — this is your time.

Have a listen. And then, maybe next time it happens to you, you’ll at least have this tune in your head to keep you company in the dark while you decide what to do next.

The song video can be found at the link below. Warning: you may feel a strong desire to get up and dance when this is played: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwTXwJg6_VE