Learning lessons from my car

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

Yesterday morning I was driving to church and looked down to check my speed. The speedometer said 61 – but it felt like I was going my normal 40 along that street. My heart stopped – I took my foot off the gas.

It made me feel totally disoriented, and I almost pulled over because I didn’t even know how fast to go anymore. Then I finally drew myself together enough to realize that the speedometer was set for kilometers rather than miles per hour – so I had evidently pushed something I shouldn’t have when I set the clock back for daylight savings time.

Crisis averted. Deep breath.

What I realized is that I didn’t react very well when I was bewildered. Instead of thinking clearly, I froze up. That was not something I was prepared to encounter, and I did not have a game plan. That was not a comfortable place to be.

This experience made me wonder is how I would react in a true crisis situation. Would I freeze like I did, or would I be able to calmly discover a solution?

One of my strengths is strategic planning and thinking through the steps or solutions to a problem to arrive at a successful solution. But my strength would be my downfall in a crisis because I need time to deliberate and plan that solution.

How will I learn from this experience? By deliberately putting myself in situations where I am not completely in control so I can get better at reacting more spontaneously. Not that I will seek out a crisis to practice on, but I will more attune to situations that are not in my comfort zone.

Believe it or not, one way I do that is by commenting on other blogs and entering online conversations around writing and leadership. It helps me improve my thinking on my feet (or at my fingertips), and causes me to react quickly and not take a lot of time to formulate a response. I need more of that practice in other venues as well.

How have you learned from situations when you reacted inappropriately?

4 thoughts on “Learning lessons from my car

  1. Proof that we should go on the metric system like the rest of the civilized world! 🙂

    As I was reading this I was picturing driving to Grace Chapel down Southall Road…man I miss that drive this time of year…and in spring…and winter…and summer…on an early morning…at night…sigh.

    Anyway, uh, yeah. I react inappropriately 49.9% of the time. I usually find it best to blame others, get really upset at no one in particular, throw my hands up, and then curse the person or object I am dealing with. That is for the simplest things.

    I’m working on it though and the sign of progress for me lately has been when I act a certain way and feel guilty and embarrassed by it, whereas five years ago I would not have.

    • Don’t know which is harder to overcome – the freezing up and NOT reacting or the blame, yelling, etc. Guess the good thing is recognizing the problem, and learning to respond more positively to the trigger. Thanks for commenting, and yes, it has been beautiful here this fall – sorry you are missing it.

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