The journey of life, the roads we walk are seldom ever smooth. Everyone encounters obstacles and challenges, most of which we have little or no control over. How we react to them is what defines who we are, both to ourselves and to others.
As leaders, our reaction to situations also determines whether we stay on course or get derailed. These seemingly 'bad' situations which we cannot change have the power to cause us anxiety, fear, alarm, dread or they can lead us to a brighter place we didn't even know existed inside us. The outcome depends on how we react.
Day to day examples of negative situations in which we are helpless:
1. Stuck in traffic: Do you pull your hair out, yell at the cars ahead, toot your car horn repeatedly or do you wait patiently, maybe listening to music, a personal development tape, etc.
2. Waiting in a long line: At the bank, grocery store, restaurant, post office, job fair, or even night club entrance. Do you begin to cause a scene by grumbling, stumping your feet, complaining, 'huffing' and 'puffing', rudely demanding for more help/reinforcement or do you once again exercise patience?
3. At the end of a relationship. When your partner walks out on you or a long-term friendship goes downhill, do you go on a self-destructive rampage, character smearing fight, or do you cry, wipe off your tears, let go and keep things moving?
4. When you lose your job. Fired, laid off or demoted, how do you react? Do you move forward and seek to find another job, maybe start on a different path, or do you get stuck feeling sorry for yourself and blaming everyone else for your demise – "it is my boss's fault, my colleague's fault, my partner's fault, my child's fault, etc"? Don't give away your personal power … focus on solutions and move forward.
5. Intangibles. How about when you get sick, fail an important test in school, miss an important appointment, etc. How do you react?
There are many 'unforeseens' in life that we have absolutely no control over, however, we do have control over our reaction to them.
1. Vent. Allow yourself to feel the emotions and vent if you have to – this is a normal human reaction to frustration, but please avoid directing your anger towards people and remember to keep these venting sessions short. Venting is important because it lets off steam which if kept tightly bottled up may explode in unexpected ways to the peril of ourselves and brand. Find ways to cool off.
2. Let go. Not always easy, but 'do-able'. Consciously encourage yourself to regain your freedom by emotionally disconnecting from negative situations, experiences and people – this is where the power of the mind becomes very important. This means getting ride of anger, frustration, bitterness. Sometimes, it means facing and dealing with self-limiting beliefs or feelings that tell you that you are 'not capable' of moving on. Remind yourself that you are not a victim, but a victorious child of God. Also, let TIME do its job of restoring and cleaning the slate. Don't be afraid to reach out for help by talking to others who have had similar experiences or seeking professional help.
3. Look for the good. There is always some kind of good in every seemingly bad situation. This is where a positive mental attitude comes in. You are either being readjusted in your purpose filled walk or gently being stirred away from one that wasn't meant for you. Always look for the good. Look for the experience gained.
4. Laugh and joke about it. There's a popular belief that laughter is medicine for the soul, which happens to be true, I think. Those who maintain a good sense of humor through the blows that life seemingly deals them tend to maintain a healthy glow. Life has its ups and downs, but it's still beautiful.
5. Do something! Negative experience can have a paralyzing effect on us if we let them. Action is key to recovering and moving on. Socialize, get involved in a cause connected to your demise where you meet and mentor others in similar situations, read books and articles that uplift your spirits, write about your experiences … do something! Action dispels the cloud of darkness that may otherwise close in.
The bottom-line is, life is a journey full of unknowns. As a leader, your reaction is important in keeping your dreams and those of others who look up to you alive. While you may not be able to stop 'bad' things from happening to you, always strive to separate yourself from negative emotions. Stay cool and calm … and most importantly, keep moving.