If you feel like your life is one, big constant drama, here is some advice:

Begin developing the skill of excusing yourself from other people’s circuses so you can get back to your own life and your own business.

Repeat after me: “That is not my circus. Those are not my monkeys.”
For full disclosure, the actual Polish proverb is “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” But we’re doing it a little differently here, because there’s psychological benefit to choosing your words carefully.

When you add words like “that” and “those” to statements, you imply distance. When you use words like “this” and “these” you implying intimacy and closeness.

If you order a hamburger and the waiter tries to hand you a dish with baked salmon on it, you’d say “That’s not mine.” You’ve already rejected it. You wouldn’t say “This isn’t mine” if the plate is still in his hand.

The same goes with drama. When someone tries to embroil you in a circus that you don’t need to be at, you’ll do yourself a big favor if you don’t let the proverbial plate get into your hand in the first place. How you do that is up to you. Some situations can be straightforward, and you can say “I don’t have time to get involved in that right now.” Other situations require a bit more grace and tact. But if you don’t get that drama away from you, no one is going to do it for you. And you’ll lose out on the things you’re trying to get done, which creates a new drama of it’s own.

“That is not my circus. Those are not my monkeys. That is not my circus. Those are not my monkeys.”

You take care of your own monkeys. Let everyone else take care of theirs. (Or, at the very least, consciously limit your exposure as best you can.) This will help you get through the rest of the year with some semblance of sanity.

The reason we’re talking about this today is because we’re past the halfway point of the year, which is generally the time people start calling us and saying that distraction and drama have been getting in the way of Their Big Plans. The solution to that usually ends up involving creating a short-term plan for narrowing down what they need to work on next and how to ignore everything else in the meantime.

So as you enter into YOUR next six months, keep this in mind: Keep your eyes on the prize. Take care of your monkeys and no one else’s. Don’t get caught up in other people’s dramas. That is not your circus, and those are not your monkeys.

As you move into taking your business and your personal six month plan more seriously, you will be tested. Ridiculous circuses and monkeys are going to start competing for your attention. Just keep repeating that phrase. It will come through for you when you need it.

[c/o N. Dunford]


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