Change and wisdom

One of my goals for 2017 was to join a choir and so on Monday evening, I found myself in a church in a local town with a dozen people I’d never met before. After some warm up exercises, our first song wasn’t one I know but I recognised the words. It’s called the Serenity Prayer Song and you may recognise the words too:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change all I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

Those words reminded me of a conversation I had with a client recently. We had used my ‘circles of influence‘ tool to help Ella process her concerns around an issue at work which had led us onto a discussion about what we can and can’t change.

Ella’s a very visual person so she set to work with her coloured pens on a huge sheet of paper to list and illustrate her cans and can’ts. As some of it was quite personal, I won’t share a photo of it but I do have her permission to share the general subject headings.

Things I can’t change

  • Other people
  • World events
  • The past
  • The passage of time
  • My boss

Things I can change

  • My behaviour towards other people, whether that’s family, friends or strangers
  • My attitude towards world events: instead of being anxious or depressed, I can learn more about them, find out how I can help or make a difference, even if it’s only in a small way
  • I can change my future by reflecting on my past, seeing what I can learn from my decisions I made and experiences I had so I can plans for the future
  • My attitude towards getting older: maybe I can’t do all the things I used to do (due to responsibilities, physical changes, work and life circumstances) but I’m moving into a new phase of life. I am a different person at 40 to who I was at 20 and I have a different set of opportunities ahead of me
  • My attitude towards my boss. I can learn more about who she is, what makes her tick and how I can help her. Ultimately, if I’m still not happy, I can change my job


After we finished, I asked Ella how she felt. ‘I feel great,’ she said, ‘I feel calmer knowing what it is I can’t change and I can devote my energy and attention to those things I can change.’

Today’s pebble for your thoughts:  could it help you this week to evaluate the things you can change and those you can’t?

What do you think?



Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, email me and let’s have a conversation about how we can work together.


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2 Responses to Change and wisdom

  1. juliamanchester says:

    Great blog post, as always. The serenity prayer is based on the fundamental tenets of Stoicism!

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