I love reading motivational books. Lately every book I read has been advising me to change my response to an outcome.
The constant refrain is that it is not the failure or disappointment that should matter, but how we react to it!
Sounds very intriguingly profound, isn’t it? But when I casually mentioned the thought in a social get-together, some sniggered calling it pure rubbish—easy to say, but difficult to achieve.
That took me to August 2014, when I had first read Jack Canfield’s Principles of Success. Jack talks about taking 100% responsibility for your life. He gives the example of the great earthquake that almost devastated Los Angeles in 1994. The earthquake had damaged one of the main freeways leading into the city resulting in massive traffic snarls. A CNN Reporter, who was similarly stuck, got out from his car and went knocking from car to car, asking the drivers how they were doing.
The first responded angrily saying that Los Angeles is a horrible place to live in. There are floods, fires and earthquakes. No matter how early he started, he would never reach on time.
The CNN Reporter asked the same question to another driver. This gentleman responded by saying that he does not see being stuck as much of a problem.
Really, the reporter was flabbergasted.
The gent explained that he leaves for work at 5 a.m. But he always carries lots of music cassettes and Spanish language tapes so that he can continue entertaining himself or learning a new language even when stuck in a three hour long standstill.
The message of the story: “If You Don’t Like Your Outcomes, Change Your Responses”.
Sounds good in theory, I thought to myself. Little did I know that I was soon going to be put to the same test.
In September 2014 (a month after reading Jack’s book), I had scheduled to publish one of my books. What was soon going to happen was totally unforeseen.
I live in a North Indian State located in the Himalayas. The incessant rains of the dreaded monsoon season brought terrible floods to the valley. The entire city got submerged in about 20 feet of water. All roads, electricity and communication lines snapped.
Our house was somewhat nestled up in the hills, so we survived the floods (almost!). But we were without running water and electricity for three days. There was no supply of fresh vegetables, bread or newspapers. It took nearly two weeks for everything to start limping back to normalcy but the phone lines continued to be under repair. Mobile towers were standing but their servers and control centres had got damaged. As a result, there was no internet.
How was I supposed to publish my book then? You are bound to feel very frustrated if you ever land in such a soup.
So what did I do?
I could have cursed the weather gods for putting me in this situation. I could have blamed my fate that I was located in such a place and in such a time which was bound to get hit by floods. I could have whined about the terrible infrastructure or the lack of preparedness of the Government of that State. I could have accused the Americans of using too much air conditioning and cars resulting in global warming. I could have also blamed my bad karmas in my previous incarnations!
But I didn’t do any of that. Time had come to implement what I had learnt. I had to change my response to the outcome. There was no point in getting angry or pulling my hair off. That would have only created more stress, not leading to anything.
So I came up with a plan. Compiling, proof reading and finalising my book did not require an internet connection. So I focussed on that.
Meanwhile I heard of an internet café, the only one in the city, which had just resumed work with a functioning internet connection. What a miracle!
So I transferred my fully compiled and formatted book to a memory stick and took it to that café. And finally I published my book on Amazon that very month. This way, I met my own deadline to publish my book in September even under such adverse circumstances.
So keeping my cool and changing my response to an adverse ‘Act of God’ did help me in coming up with a plan that yielded the results that I wanted.
Life is all like that. Regardless of how well we think we are prepared, we all keep getting hit by floods, snow storms, earthquakes or an unseasonal change.
What matters is how we react to it.
Even if you are not hit by a natural calamity, changing your reactions can lead to positive outcomes.
Try it in your day to day living!
So what is your story?