Beyond the Build


Learning to Temper Your Initial Reactions

Over the years, I’ve learned this truth: Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems at first. Most people tend to exaggerate in one direction, especially in the evening. I have also discovered that a few days of waiting on either side of the equation is a good practice. That little bit of settling time tends to moderate your thoughts, leveling out the extremes.

I have a friend who works with one of our customer relationships and he has a “three-day rule.” Whenever he hears of a success or failure, something good or something bad, he waits three days to react to it. At the end of that waiting period, balance has a chance to bubble up to the surface.

Perhaps Bob Dylan said it best in a song he wrote for his 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration called, “My Back Pages.” The famous lyrics go “Ah, but I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.” He criticizes himself for having been certain that he knew everything. For many of us, the older we get, we start to question what once seemed absolute. It’s all about balance, and time–even three short days–can help us find it.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.