Resistance is Futile

PizzaYou have always dreamed of opening a pizza parlor. You drive by the perfect vacant building for your business and see a “For Lease” sign in the window. This is it! Time to make your dream come true. You create a vision board with photos of pizzas, of people laughing and enjoying life with a slice in one hand and a brew in the other. You research everything you can about opening a small business in this industry. You do some self- analysis. Do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to open and run a successful pizza parlor? If not, you read books, take a class or two at the local community college, perhaps even go to work in a pizza joint to learn the trade from the ground up. You are so ready and so confident that you quit your high-paying job in the securities industry and begin taking actions to make your dream happen.

Because you’ll need a use permit from the city, you prepare a detailed, thoughtful presentation for the planning commission meeting. To your dismay, the commission turns you down, based primarily on the testimony of several local merchants who show up to protest that pizza parlors promote juvenile delinquency with their video games and loud music, not to mention the health issues created by all that cheese, pepperoni, sausage and lard. The merchants want something more sophisticated in the location like another dress store—which would be #31 in the downtown area.

Just like that. Rejected after one meeting. Do you respond with resistance or acceptance?

Resistance Response: The contrast between the actual result—no pizza parlor—and your idea of an idyllic unfolding of your lifelong dream hits you like a ton of mozzarella. Your ego rails at this horrible injustice. You go home and tell your wife how you’ve been treated. She leaves you. Well, hey, you did leave a good job and failed to deliver on the promised replacement. You decide to have a bottle of rum for lunch, write a scathing editorial in the local paper about “scumbags” on the planning commission and get sued by the city. To prove the merchants wrong, after hurling dog-poop bombs onto all their storefronts, you open a pizza place in a ratty, rundown part of town where no use permit is required. You fill it with video games and a loud jukebox. The cops arrest you for promoting gang violence; you receive a 10- year sentence that gets extended to 15 because they find your fingerprints on the bags that held the dog poop.

Acceptance Response: You accept the conclusion of the planning commission, understanding that they were only responding to the wishes of many dissenting merchants. You hire a land use attorney and begin planning for your appeal to the city council. In the meantime, you schedule meetings with several of the merchants who spoke against your plan. You share with them research as to the positive community effects of pizza parlors, invite them to a taste testing, giving them a role in the selection of your menu and make concessions about the number and types of video games you’ll provide and the style and volume of the music. No gangster rap allowed. You obtain a permit and open shop.

When you accept an outcome, you are merely acknowledging how life works.

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