Living in day-tight compartments

In a rather dark phase during my university days, I remember reading Dale Carnegie’s book – “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” It was one of those classic self help books written in the post depression era.

I don’t remember much from the book beyond one idea that stuck was – live life in day-tight compartments. The idea here is that it helps to localize the effects of a bad day. If yesterday was a bad day, it is tempting to let it spill over into today. Instead, Carnegie recommended we practice taking life 24 hours at a time.

I was thinking about it over the last few weeks as I was watching episodes of The West Wing (which, by the way, has to be the greatest TV series ever made if you geek out about teams and leadership). The show, for the most part, takes us through momentous days in the lives of the team of White House staffers. And, every once a while, when they’ve had a good day, the President calls it out by saying something to the tune of – “You’ve had a good day. Go get rest and I’ll see you tomorrow.” And, typically, after a series of bad days, it is something to the tune of – “Break’s over.”

Here’s what we know – fluctuations are a part of life. A run of good days or, for that matter, a run of bad days will never last. If it is a good day, call it out, get rest and get started early the next day. If it is a bad day, call it out, get to bed quicker and get started early the next day.

The more we can keep perspective, the better. And, a nice way to do that is to live in day tight compartments.

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