My optimism got a gut check. “Into every life, a little rain must fall” goes the proverb. This week has me feeling like Joe Btfsplk of the Lil Abner cartoon strip. The rain cloud is my new best friend. My 2010 SUV, bought for dependability, died un-expectantly last week as I left for a multi player power conference I had facilitated. The conference was 15 miles away. My wife left that morning for her girl friend weekend and I work 35 miles from my house filled with indoor pets. A rental car and new starter solved all that. Went to bed Sunday night believing this would be a normal week. Wrong.
Monday starts with my wife in a terror mood related to the bed we bought 3 months ago and her first day back at school. I get to work and discover my colleague/receptionist hit her head and has a mild concussion. She’s out for a few days. Busy day and night class later I come home to discover my computer would not download some new software because Windows XP is too old. Old but great.
Tuesday starts family crisis phone call on the way to work. I arrive at work find my computer dead. A documents for a major report, due Wednesday, are only on the hard drive and my tech support comes by weekly. My speaker at an afternoon workshop shows up early to make some color copies for attendees and the laser cartridges run out of color ink. Tuesday night my car starts, goes 4 miles and dies at the gas station. An hour later, it starts and I drive home, missing my evening class. This morning my car starts after my workout. I go in, change, and head out to work and this time the 2010 SUV won’t start. Thank God for my utility truck. I discover the problem with my laptop is the power supply and my car needs a new battery to go with last week’s starter so I sit here using a borrowed computer and wonder how I will get back to my car after the new battery arrives.
All of this led me to a point of discovery about my reaction to the unexpected. I discovered I need to keep on chopping wood and carrying water when it comes to attitude development. My ADD people driven approach leaves me vulnerable to unplanned and unexpected change. My optimistic blind spot is lack of thinking through what could go wrong. So when it comes in bunches, I fall off my positive attitude high horse.
Here are some ideas that led me out from under the cloud.
1) Smile and laugh – After realizing my negative approach was startling others and adding to my mental negativity, I went back and started smiling first and internally laughing at the odds of all these events converging together. Maybe I could win the lottery!
2) Focus on gratitude – Rather than think about all the things that went wrong, Laura suggested I refocus on what was going right in my life. Guess I am rubbing off on her. I went back to the list of people who enrich my life. Yes, I really do have a list that I add to each week.
3) Shut up – My sarcastic side was having a field day with my plight and like dessert, sarcasm should be indulged infrequently. I know better than to speak what I have as if I want it, so I went cold turkey.
4) Think on paper – Having taught and coached problem solving and planning, I hired myself. Putting the problem on paper, listing possible causes, and planning solutions to avoid recurrence really does work.
5) Read – A healthy dose of John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, Norman Vincent Peale topped off with Psalms 118:24, and Romans 8:28 left me positively stuffed.
My car is now running with a new starter and battery, my computer is in the shop needing more than a power supply, my colleague is working half days, my report is done and I am reading a scripture verse posted on my phone, Psalms 118:24. The rain is gone and the sun is breaking through. Life is good.