Ever have one of those days, when it seems the universe has it in for you? Well I have a little secret that can help you get over that feeling and actually change the situation. Hint: It’s not the universe that’s responsible.
Pogo was accurate when he said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Sure, stuff happens. But, as Lou Holtz (famous football coach and motivational speaker), tells us: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”
Most of us have experienced the “chain reaction” bad luck sequence. It’s the foundation of much movie humor. The heroine is ordered to go out and buy coffee for the meeting. At the coffee shop, she finds that her credit card is maxed out. Looking for change, she inadvertently empties the contents onto the floor then finds she doesn’t have enough cash for all five coffees. She skips her coffee. On the way back to the office, her heel sticks in a grate, causing her to stumble and spill three coffees down her new Armani suit. Disheveled and wet, she limps into the meeting, gives her boss the remaining coffee, and hears him ask, “Cream?”
Yeah. We’ve all had those days.
The good news is that getting through those days only takes two things:
- Recognizing that you’re in the downward spiral
- Deciding to get out of it
Here’s your plan:
When the first incident occurs that causes you to exclaim, “I’m so pissed!” prepare for what happens next. Look around for the next bad luck attack. If it doesn’t come, then this is just an isolated case of no statistical significance. But if the next thing that hits causes you to say, “Now I’m really pissed,” you’re headed for a negative adventure. It’s like watery eyes predicting you’re headed for a full-blown sinus attack. It’s a signal!
Viktor Frankl’s famous quote comes to mind: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
A real-life example
Some years ago, my wife and I were headed on vacation. The day of our flight, I had to drop the dogs at the kennel, pick up my wife at her office, and drive us to the airport. Oh, and arrange our seats. I planned to negotiate with American Airlines en route.
I had it all timed out. I loaded up the boys and headed for the puppy camp office. Sign on the door: Closed Wednesdays. And then it started to rain. I would now have to drive 27 miles to the actual kennel down I-44, and I certainly had not accounted for that in my time estimate. I’m so pissed.
Slamming the car into gear and dialing my wife’s office to inform her of this ridiculous situation, I raced through our little town. I crested a little rise on wet Elm Avenue only to mate with a stopped pickup truck. Nailed him. Dogs ended up in the front seat. My hood and front grill were crushed on his hitch ball, but he insisted on taking all insurance papers and so on. Now I’m really, really pissed. How could this get any worse?
As I pulled onto the interstate, I noticed the damaged hood bobbing slightly. That was the stimulus. I took a deep breath (space), pulled over, and thought rationally about what needed to be done to avoid something else happening. Check the hood. The hood was unlatched and would have flown up over my windshield had I continued. In 15 seconds, I had interrupted my run of bad luck.
As a rally co-driver, I had the skills to figure out how much time it would take to drop the boys, get back to my wife’s office, and get to the airport, and how fast I needed to go. I upped the speed and dialed American Airlines. I was in super efficiency mode now! Making a long story short, we made it to the plane (barely) and had a wonderful week in Colorado.
This incident hatched the above-mentioned plan. Since then, in the downward spiral of a bad luck sequence, the second issue becomes my stimulus. I choose that there not be a third. That’s a conscious decision. That’s the 90 percent “how you respond.”
Try it, and let me know how it works for you.