We all have those times when we find ourselves in difficult situations that have the ability to make us nervous, panicky, and even scared. You might call it a “shit-storm.” Depending on your bodily reactions, it very well could be a shit-storm…
That was a little too visual. But most people just feel like their stuck in quicksand and there’s no way of getting out. So they start to struggle and squirm for survival. And what happens when you try to do too much in quicksand? You slowly but surely ease deeper into the sandy abyss.
That is no way to solve a problem.
Rolf Potts is the author of Vagabonding and Marco Polo Didn’t Go There. One of the posts from his blog, written by Ted Beatie, outlines a 5 step process on how to deal with problematic situations. Now, I had my own process before I read the blog post and I think it works just as well. It’s the same idea, but simpler and more concise.
1. Don’t Panic
Keeping your calm is the most important part of getting through a rough situation. If you can’t keep your calm, you will not be able to implement the following steps. Your composure is the glue that holds all of these steps together, allowing you to face any situation. Also, it is easier to make smart, strategic decisions with a clear mind and take decisive action with steady hands.
2. Find Alternate Solutions
I say “alternate” because usually there is no “quick-fix” when a complicated or serious problem arises. Your first instinct could easily be a rash decision. For example, I left my cell phone on the public transit system here in Gainesville, Florida. As soon as I got off the bus, I patted down my pockets to make sure I had everything. I realized my cell phone probably slipped out of my pocket when I put my knees up on the back of the seat in front of me (it was a comfortable position). My first instinct, was to run after the bus. My second instinct was to drive my car to the next bust stop on the bus route. Eventually, I decided to go back home and open up the live-bus feed on the internet so that I could track the bus’s location in live-time. I simply waited until the bus came back to my bus-stop. I looked around where I had sat and couldn’t find my phone anywhere. Knowing that the bus driver cleans out the bus at the end of every route, I asked if he had found a phone. Huzzah! Oh glorious day, I got my phone back!
3. Implement The Best Solution
In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t run after the bus. There was no way I would have caught up with it. Driving to the bus stop could have led to a never-ending goose chase. Being patient and tracking the bus’s live feed was an alternate solution and also the best one. I wasn’t scared of someone stealing my phone because with all those iPhones and Blackberrys out there, no one would want to sacrifice their morals for a crappy flip-phone reminiscent of the late 90s. But if it was a Droid, this would be another story…
“Whether you are in Port-au-Prince, Shanghai, or Oakland, more important than what happens to you, is how you deal with it“
No matter where you may be in the world, unplanned and bad things will happen. How you deal with them is the true judgement of character and resilience. When there is no simple quick-fix, finding creative, alternate solutions to the problem at hand is an excellent way to build critical thinking skills that can be applied to almost any facet of life. And if those solutions don’t work, the ability to be flexible and bounce back from unexpected conditions allows you to roll with the punches, making you more apt and prepared for future problems that may arise.
I like to say “I don’t lose things, I only misplace them.” My friends and family would easily disagree with me by pointing out multiple situations when I completely lost stuff without a trace i.e. my new Fossil wristwatch by placing it on the back of my car, my iPod by taking it to the beach during a blitzed state of mind, and my clothes scattered throughout various friends’ places, hotels, and even YMCA locker rooms. However, these are situations where I had to let go of what happened because there was nothing I could do to bring back the past. Focusing on the present and the future is the best way to prevent similar mis-happenings from ever taking place again.
In the case of my Fossil wristwatch, my iPod, and my various articles of clothing – basically things that get lost that you cannot do much about, it is best to just prevent it from ever happening again by learning from your mistakes. For instance, I do not lose anything by driving away in my car because I make sure I don’t put anything on the outside of my car for the life of me. I never put myself in that position to begin with.
Remember: don’t panic so you can make intelligent decisions. Avoid rash instincts by searching for outside-the-box solutions. And finally, implement the best solution and never look back unless you’re learning from your mistakes.
* If you’re looking for a better definition of travel and some great inspiration to see cultures first-hand across the globe you should think about reading Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts. After reading the book, it changed my perspective on travel and life for the better.
* Travel writing makes great reading on a rainy day when you wish you were somewhere in Thailand storming the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie or hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, hoping to see Poland, only to find out you’ve made it all the way to Hungary. Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, also by Rolf Potts allows you to vicariously experience fantastic adventure through the eyes of an adventurous travel writer.
* I highly recommend both of these books. Go to Amazon, type in the titles and see what other people have to say!
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