Opinion: Know the difference

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Presenting to a large assembly of mostly central Indiana business leaders, the young mayor of the recently ordained City of Fishers — Scott Fadness — outlined a vision for his community and that of the larger body of central Indiana.  While at once relaxed, even jocular, he is intensely focused on navigating the threats and opportunities with which he is confronted. One is comforted to expect that even if the challenges prove overwhelming, it would not be for any lack of effort, intelligence, or intensity on his part. 

In examining the population growth, rising real estate values and other affirmations of the positive direction his citizenry enjoys, he admonished the group with his own mantra — namely to invest oneself in “knowing the difference between what you are doing and what’s happening to you.” The elegance and simplicity of the statement is striking. 

Too often, we revel in the success we might encounter in life, claiming that “we own” all that is good and right. We are making it happen. We are “doing” it. Still, as life turns against us and the winds blow, blustering cold in our face, we assert all matter of calamity to be “happening” to us. Surely, sometimes we are correct. Yet, how often did we take credit for a rising tide and refuse blame for a sinking ship? 

In our own work, home and family, are we holding ourselves to account for what we can hope to affect and deflecting credit (or blame) for that which we cannot? Is the magic in life not that we own our actions or not but instead in knowing when and how to hold ourselves accountable and when to claim a pass? Fadness reminds us to check not only our hubris but also our humility. If both matter, shouldn’t we know the difference?

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