How Do You Respond To Crises?

While channel surfing, I stumbled upon a triathalon.

The leader and defending champion was in complete control. He had created a sizeable lead during the swim and bike legs. Suddenly, he got a flat. As he changed the tyre, his opponents ate way at his lead.

The change didn’t go smoothly. He fumbled with the broken tubing and he was passed by other riders. He cursed and carried on and lost his cool as precious seconds trickled away. His tantrum further hindered his tyre change. His head was filled with rage and frustration instead of being calm and clear.

There was a lot weighing on the race – money and championship points – for instance. But his response wasn’t helping his cause. Is this how he responded to other challenges?

A crisis shows your character. Do you panic, lose your cool, or are you stunned into submission?

Crises are unsavoury experiences, but they’re an opportunity to show your inner steel. Keep a steady head and don’t let emotions override the way you act. It’s easy to curse and scream and take out your anger on those around you. But if you can harness this energy you’ll overcome the crisis without any casualties.

Become exceptional in the face of crises.

Great Expectations – Part Four

He was scrambling around the apartment now. What he was trying to orchestrate would take all his nous. How could he leave without a trace while letting his loved ones know he was safe?

His phone began to ring. The authorities were unscrupulous with their time management and he had missed the first checkpoint. They wouldn’t be worried just yet. He had missed checkpoints in the past. Their worry would begin when he missed two in a row. Something he’d never done.

So he couldn’t be swayed, he switched his phone to silent to disengage from the guilt.

As he packed necessities into a small rucksack he thought of ways to contact his friends and family. Nothing came to mind. The establishment would be clinical with their search and would stop at nothing to find him. Their hunt would be amplified by desperation.

He would have to leave now. It wouldn’t be long before they sent people to check on his whereabouts. There was only one thing he could do.

In order to make a clean break, he couldn’t leave any hints. This isn’t some fairytale, he realised. Yes, they’d be distressed. Angry too. But he had spent the entirety of his life helping and pleasing others. Now was the time he did something for himself. Besides, he could try and make contact with them once the dust had settled. Lord knows how long that would be.

He left the apartment. He had played around with the circuitry of the keycard slot making it difficult to open the door without a battering ram.

As he limped down the steps, he was overcome with excitement. This was it. He was breaking away. He pushed away thoughts of, “What would they think?” and enjoyed the euphoria of the situation.

He opened the door and pulled a cap firmly over his head. He glanced back at the apartment block one last time, smiled and walked away.

Great Expectations – Part Three

He would have to leave soon. He had an hour at most. He hated these awkward lengths of time. Long enough to do something significant. But short enough to waste.

He talked himself into watching TV and found himself searching for comic relief.

Despite his best intentions, he couldn’t drift off into the mindless drivel that occupied his screen. His mind was busy thinking and planning. How could he ‘go missing’? Would it be so wrong to follow his heart for once? He was such a logical man. Always calculating probabilities and approaching scenarios methodically.

He found himself creating a pros and cons list in his head, even now. He shook his head vigorously, attempting to disarm his systematic brain to no avail. He could convince himself either way.

He was leading a selfless life. He was using his God-given gifts for the betterment of society. The corporate adage, ‘everyone is replaceable’ didn’t apply to him. He was, quite literally, the only person who could do what he could do.

But he wasn’t fulfilled. He would falter eventually. The life he was leading wasn’t sustainable.

His rational mind was in overdrive now. Despite all the things he was,  he wasn’t immortal. Earth would have to learn to survive without him at some stage; the question was: when?

Perhaps it was in the best interests of the globe if he stepped away now. The people would be forced to step up. To adapt. He could oversee proceedings from afar and interject if things became a little too dire.

The idea of taking a step back was gaining traction. Would they look for him? Would they beg or ridicule him?

Ten minutes to make a decision.

Great Expectations – Part Two

With his bags packed and his stomach grumbling, he began to prepare breakfast. Knowing it might be some time before he got to cook a good meal for himself, he savoured the experience.

He thought it ironic that he enjoyed cooking and other simple things, given what he was capable of. He prepared his scrambled eggs with precision. He didn’t overbeat the mixture making sure it was a marbled yellow colour.

He knew cereal wasn’t the healthiest option but he helped himself to a large bowl anyway. He poured the milk carefully and switched on his laptop. He savoured the crunch of the cereal as the old laptop came to life. He had picked up the computer second hand years ago and somehow it continued to run.

He left the computer to load, not wanting his cereal to turn to mush. You see, cereal eating is an art. The first few spoonfuls are about enjoying the crunch with the freshness of the milk. Then there’s the golden period where the cereal starts to absorb the milk though retains its shape. Once past this, you’re left with an amorphous mass and this is best scooped into the nearest bin.

He checked his emails having finished his cereal. The eggs continued to cook away on the stove. The amount of junk that filled his inbox flummoxed him. He would like to meet the people who spent their time making and sending spam mail. He’d punch them in their collective noses.

His eggs were ready by the time his inbox was clear of trash. He could never seem to eat slowly despite his best intentions. Maybe it was because he had lived alone for so long. Without company, he had no one to talk with.

He pushed his now egg-less dish to one side and dragged the laptop forward. Damn. Still no reply. He had spent hours crafting clever emails in hope he would get some kind of lead.

Even if had received a response of two, would he act on it? Would he have the balls to move away from what he was born to do and instead pursue something he was less adept at but more passionate about?

He wouldn’t have to worry about that quandary as he stared at an empty inbox.

Great Expectations – Part One

It’s interesting how it goes. One day it feels like you’re making progress only for the next day to come along and stump you.

He hadn’t been back long when the calls began. All he had wanted was a small break. But the expectations were too high. What would happen to the people if he ‘disappeared’?

Catastrophe most likely. And he’d be to blame. After all, it was him, and him alone, that could stop them.

He was commended upon his return by the officials, as always. It was nice, but he never felt comfortable when heaped with praise. He didn’t feel worthy. He was only doing what anyone in his position with his abilities would do. To him, it was like the celebrating a birthday. What for? The child had not contributed to his birth. Apart from being the lucky by-product of the whole messy event.

He attended the ceremonies nevertheless. He wore the medals. He made the speech. They told him to take a well-deserved break and that he would not be bothered unless absolutely necessary.

Two days is better than none, he thought as he organised his gear. Much of his first choice equipment was in the shop for repairs. He’d be forced to use what he had lying around.

His wounds were still ripe, he noticed, as he changed his dressings. He was unable to fully bear weight on his left leg and was relying on a cane to make his way around the apartment.

He stood in front of the mirror wearing nothing but his briefs and he pondered his situation. The reflection cast was of a man somewhere in his middle thirties. Faded scars painted his body, though rather than looking ungainly they added to his aura. One scar, in particular, marked his left thigh. It was deeper than the rest and was dead straight spanning almost the entire length from hip to knee.

Apart from the scars, he struck a handsome figure. His skin was fair and his hair a dark brown, though at times appeared almost burgundy when struck by the light. It was neatly cropped, requiring little maintenance.

He had a beard, which reflected his mood. It was wild and thick. His fingers battled to make their way through the follicular jungle.

He had an athletic and unassuming physique. But this was merely a guise. Hard and sinewy, the man was well balanced. He was not burdened by muscle, which would make his movements slow and cumbersome, nor was he too skinny. He was lithe and powerful; a potent combination.

The Purge

Rick and Morty is a favourite show of mine. The cartoon is loosely based around Back to the Future. It follows a genius scientist, Rick, and his reluctant sidekick and grandson, Morty, as they travel the multiverse.

One episode follows their journey to a crime-free planet. But there’s a catch. One day a year they purge. The planet becomes lawless. The inhabitants vent their frustrations resulting in a bloody killing spree.

Lovely story line. Ancient civilisations of Central and South America once followed a similar tradition.

How can this mindset be applied to eating habits?

Instead of eating both healthy and unhealthy foods over a week or a month, what if you restrained yourself to healthy foods only? Then, once every so often, you allowed yourself a day of eating whatever you wanted.

Is this justifying bingeing?

Eating without restraints reduces cravings and eliminates the need to binge.

Counter to this, different personalities are suited to the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. They might benefit from the control of restraints and tolerate the occasional ‘blow-out’.

It comes down to the individual. But for sustainability and building healthy habits, those who opt for the ‘binge’ mindset should work toward a balanced approach. Focus on building a healthy relationship with food.

Story Time

I learned many things from the stories my brother and I forced our Mum to read before bed. Stories are to be enjoyed. But there are messages embedded within the text too. The messages tend to stick. The classic, Pinocchio, taught me the value of using your conscience as your guide. Thanks to the stubborn though good-natured Jiminy Cricket.

Then you grow up.

You think stories are for kids and leave fiction behind. They’re a waste of time. If you’re to spend time reading, it might as well be something that will add value.

Finding value and using your time wisely are important. But avoiding fiction discredits what can be learned from a tall tale.

Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle has taught me plenty. Like forging your own path and even heroes make mistakes.

What is your favourite story?

The Waiting Game

You spend your life waiting. You expect to wait in line at the post office but other waits are less predictable.

Waiting might seem like a waste of time. But becoming good at it is useful. It helps to lower the frustration that wells up when you’re forced to bide your time.

What strategies can you use to make waiting a pleasant and productive experience?

Be prepared

Develop the ability to shift when a delay occurs. Change your expectations. Have the foresight to use your newly found ‘free time’ to do something useful. Like writing a to-do list, for example.

Observe

Take a look around a waiting room. Most people apart from the very old, very young or very stubborn will be hunched over their phone. Probably trying to beat their Candy Crush high score.

While you wait, watch others. There is a lot to be learnt from observation as any infant will attest to. How does body language differ? What actions are producing positive outcomes that you can emulate? And what should you avoid? Detecting subtleties and applying what you’ve learnt will make you more effective in your future interactions.

Waiting is an opportunity. Next time you miss a flight, don’t curse the sluggish baggage crew, thank them for the chance to hone your people skills.

The Clarity That Comes With A Cold

There is a distinct unpleasantness that arises when illness rears its ugly head.

First, you put on the victim’s hat, demanding “Why me?”. Next, comes denial, “I’m not sick. This runny nose? Well, I haven’t dusted in some time. Yeah, that explains it.” Then begins the blame game: “If it wasn’t for that sniffling Kevin, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Now I have to suffer!”

As the sickness settles in, you realise you’ll be spending the next few days laying low. This is where the most telling thoughts make their way into our consciousness. Despite hating your job, you covet the thought of working. You haven’t exercised in weeks but now can’t wait to get back in the gym.

Illness is a great leveller. It puts everything into perspective. Despite your clogged sinuses may, your mind is clear. You realise you were taking life for granted. You promise yourself, “Never again.” You vow to approach life with zeal – once you can breathe out of your left nostril.

With time, the cold subsides. It no longer feels like you’re swallowing loose change with every gulp. As you recover, your outlook on life is a little different. You hold the door open for strangers. The gym becomes a second home. You look to make the most of life. But it doesn’t last. It might be weeks or even months, but soon holding the door open becomes a chore. You’d rather get a tooth extracted then spend another minute exercising. What can you do to maintain the sickness-induced mindset?

Reminders

Has a quote struck you with such intensity that it knocked you off your feet? No? Me neither. But you’ve felt the impact a good quote can have on your day.

Once a quote or moment activates that golden mind state, act fast. Write down how you feel: what was the trigger? Find time each day to review your thoughts. Soon, the quote will lose meaning. So before it does, find a new thought, quote or piece of media that produces a similar head space. Continue this cycle until a positive mind state becomes a habit. You’ll no longer need a cue like you don’t need to think about technique when brushing your teeth.

Apply yourself in this vain for months. At least 6 to be safe. Good luck.

Eat Freely

A hallmark of healthy eating is restricting ‘unhealthy’ foods like pizza, pancakes and pop tarts. People who take ‘healthy eating’ to the extreme are faced with a dilemma when they eventually succumb to an unhealthy food.

They binge, feel remorseful and then reinstate their eating restraints to make amends.

The binge

Overeating often occurs because…

  • The damage is done. You’ve eaten something that breaks your rules so eating more of the same won’t make a difference
  • A fear of scarcity. It’s ironic, given the abundance of food in developed countries, a fear of lack could drive your eating habits. From an evolutionary standpoint, the ‘feast or famine’ mindset makes sense. Prior to the agricultural revolution, food wasn’t a sure thing; humans relied on scavenging and food intake fluctuated wildly. The same instincts kick in when you indulge in a glorious glazed doughnut. Your primitive brain thinks: ‘This might be the last opportunity I get to eat a doughnut, so I better eat as many as I can!’

How do you override the binge mindset that leaves you feeling guilty and with an impending sense that your guts will literally explode?

The solution: let yourself eat whatever you like, whenever you like. Within reason of course.

By following the 80/20 principle, eating ‘healthy’ 80% of the time, the remaining 20% can be spent on foods you have a hankering for but aren’t nutritious. It changes your definition of a ‘successful’ day’s eating and lets you eat previously restricted foods, removing the stigma.

Adopting this mindset is a challenge but the long-term payoffs are worth it. You might feel like you’re breaking the law when you eat freely but it’s a sustainable and healthy strategy while bingeing is not.

Redefine your definition of healthy eating and allow it to include some indulgence.