[Note: Since we're in the middle of our "What I Learned From Stress" groupwrite project - and this article is stress-related - hey, I'm countin' this one too. You can join us if you like! Just click the link and read all about it! - Ed.]
Have you undergone stress in your job lately? Are things turning out different than what you expected? Has a situation come up lately at work that you have absolutely no idea how to handle?
Well, Bubba, if you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then consider this poor fellow’s predicament…
Upon returning to Charlotte after one of his famous Crusades, Billy Graham was picked up at the airport by an absolutely huge stretch limousine. I’m tellin’ ya, that was one impressive set of wheels!
As they headed home, Billy tapped on the glass and, once the driver lowered the partition, the two of them began discussing the particulars of the fabulous vehicle. As it turned out, the limo was brand new. In fact, it was the very first pickup the driver had ever made in it.
“You know, I have never driven a limo,” Billy said in that characteristic voice of his. “Do you think I could drive it?”
Somewhat taken aback, the driver wasn’t sure how to handle this one. So he tried stalling for time. “Well Mr. Graham,” he stammered, “I really don’t know if that’s allowed. After all, it’s a brand new car and I’m responsible for it.”
But as we all know, Billy Graham was nothing if not persuasive.
“Please, it would mean a lot to me,” he told the driver. “I’m a good driver and I promise you it will be all right.”
Finally, the driver pulled over and they swapped places. Unfortunately, Billy was not used to such a powerful car and unknowingly drove a bit too fast. Thus, it was no surprise that before too long they heard the sound of a police siren. Sure enough, a motorcycle cop was signaling for him to pull over.
As the officer sidled up to the driver’s side, Billy rolled down his window and handed out his driver’s license. The policeman, who of course instantly recognized Mr. Graham, took the license and, without saying a word, walked back to his motorcycle, fired up his radio, and called the Sergeant on duty.
“Sarge,” he called urgently, “I’ve got somebody really important pulled over for speeding, and I don’t know what to do!”
The reply was quick. “Who is it, the mayor?”
“No sir; more important than that,” the cop replied, sweat beginning to appear on his brow.
There was a short pause. “Don’t tell me you pulled over the governor!”
“No, Sarge, he’s way bigger than that!”
There was an even longer pause, followed by a somewhat hysterical reply. “Please don’t tell me you pulled over the President of the United States! If you did, you’re in a heap of trouble!”
“No sir, it’s not the President. In fact, I’m not sure who it is,” the distraught officer said. “But I have a feeling it could be God, ’cause Billy Graham is his driver!”
It Happens to All of Us, Sooner or Later
OK; show of hands. How many of you have ever felt like that poor hapless police officer? Yup; thought so.
Truth be told, you’re probably not alone. Nearly all of us have been in situations where we had no idea what to do next. So it’s kinda pointless, don’t you think, to ask the question, “So, uh, what did you do then?”
Ah, but wait! (I know; that sounds like the come-on from an infomercial, but bear with me a few more moments here.) Maybe there’s more to this that meets the eye. Could there be a glimmer of hope for all of us poor shmoes (note – rhymes with “toes” – Ed.) who’ve suffered those awful moments when utter confusion finds us locked into a feedback loop of epic proportions?
One thing about a personal crisis – it always seems like such a wall, doesn’t it? And not just any ol’ wall; no, we’re talkin’ a high, smooth, unscalable wall that stretches to infinity and beyond – in both directions. There’s no way to see what’s on the other side, and the only thing you know for sure is that it hurt like heck when you run smack-dab into it!
If you’re anything like me (and if so, then my condolences), you’ve experienced one or two of these moments in your life, I’m sure. Maybe more than a few. And it occurs to me that for you, like me, there is one thing we can say for sure about surviving a crisis.
Yep; one thing we know, and can agree categorically to be true, from personal experience. Are ya ready? (Maybe you might want to get a pencil and write this one down, folks.) OK, here it comes: We survived.
(sound of crickets…)
Hrm. Well, that didn’t exactly generate the rousing chorus of applause I was hoping for. OK, I realize this statement may not seem like all that, of course. But think about it for a moment (sound of millions of grinding gears). The fact is, you’re here now. And once, you were, you know, there.
So, ask yourself: How in tarnation did I get from there… to here?
What to Do When You Have No Idea What to Do
May I humbly suggest at least one or more of the following things:
Throw a Hissy Fit
I’ll be the first to admit, you probably won’t find this step in most “How to” manuals. And maybe you didn’t do something quite so dramatic (unless you’re a, you know, drama queen – in which case I say: go for it!)
The fact is, hitting a wall hurts. It doesn’t feel good at all. You may just want to feel frustrated, disappointed, or downright angry. Especially if the situation isn’t, you know, fair. (Um… need I point out that life, well, isn’t? No? Good.)
So I say: Hey, go ahead and feel the way you want to feel! After all, you’re human, right? (And if you’re not, then please don’t, er, eat my face or anything.) You are a living, breathing, feeling person, so go ahead and allow yourself to feel, OK? It’s perfectly natural.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; bouncing back is important. Very important. But too many times we try to rebound without allowing ourselves time to feel the emotions that are actually in our hearts. Give yourself that time to purge yourself.
Think of it as therapy. Go ahead; you’ll be glad you did.
Get Back Up
There’s an interesting little word picture the Apostle Paul uses in the Bible to illustrate spiritual battles. (What? You didn’t realize you’re in a [non-physical] war? Better wake up and smell the gunpowder, y’all!)
Paul likens it to putting on the armor of a Roman foot soldier. Along with a helmet, there’s a girdle (it sorta pulls all the loose ends of the toga together so nothing flies free while in a battle), a breastplate, leg and foot coverings, a shield, and a sword.
Now, you put all that stuff on and you’ve got one formidable warrior! Then, once the battle begins and those attacks come (which he likens to flaming darts or arrows), hey, they just bounce right off. But then he says something interesting. He adds, “… and having done all, to stand…”
Now, what does that mean? Well, to me it means that no matter what – no matter how hard or how frequent the enemy strikes you, even to the point of causing you to fall down – well, if you can do nothing else – not even fight – then at the very least, get back up!
See, if when you’ve been knocked down (and trust me; it happens to all of us), and then get back up again, you’re making a very important statement. You’re saying, “I’m not quitting! I’m not giving up! I’ll come back!”
But when you’re lying there, you’re saying, “I quit! I give up! Leave me alone!”
So which one of these two would you rather be? Yep; thought so. Good for you!
Try Something New
You remember the definition of insanity, don’t ya: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I gotta admit; I’ve not only been there, but I’m pretty sure I once owned a condo there. Talk about frustrating! So why not try something different? Truth be told (and I despite what you may have heard), it probably won’t kill ya! No, I’m serious.
Why are we so resistant to doing things differently? I mean, it’s true that for the most part, we all hate change – even when we say different. But even though we might have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into something new, more often than not we find out it’s really not so bad “on the other side”. Ever experienced that? Yup; me too.
So why not shock yourself – and the rest of the world – and head for the change on purpose (sound of shocked gasps)? Not only will it change the way you look at things, it’ll put all those watching you off their guard. Heh-heh-heh…
Take a Step Back
Y’know; before you hit the wall, and maybe even before you started doing that thing you were doing when you hit the wall, you were doing something, right? Then maybe the thing to do is just keep on doing what you already know to do.
After all, chances are fair to middlin’ that at least something you’re doing is perfectly OK, right? I mean, you’re breathin’, right? Well, that’s good; go right on breathin’ then. How about sleeping? Are you still sleeping at night? (All right; these are slightly silly examples. But so what? Made ya think, didn’t it?)
Chances are, though, that going back and simply continuing on with those things we know to do – and actually, you know, work – will give us a valuable commodity to play with: time. Time to figure out just what you really want to accomplish.
Ah, time! What a luxury to have the time to think things through for a change, eh? Well, by keepin’ on keepin’ on, you just might gain the time you need to do that very thing. Pretty neat, huh? (See? Proof: That thing my hat is resting on ain’t just a hatrack!)
(Your Suggestion Here)
OK, lest I write too much and close the book on reader’s contributions, I’m stoppin’ right about here. (Actually… I’m stopping exactly here.) Besides, I think the pump is primed enough by now, don’t you?
So what about it folks? What are the things you find yourself doing – when you have no idea what to do? Share them, if you would. Or maybe you’d care to add, modify, supplement, rebut or stomp on any of mine. It’s all right; I can take it!
Hey, the comment box is open; tell us what you think.