I was so mad I could have spit!

Not too long ago I was so mad I could’ve spit! I really lost my cool and that actually bothered me more than the situation that got me so upset in the first place. They say real wisdom is learning from other’s mistakes so hopefully you’ll be a little wiser having read this.

Let’s back up to the situation and start from there. It was really no big deal, a dead car battery in Jane’s SUV. Fortunately it was parked at the house and not somewhere on the road so I tried to jump it but had no luck. AAA came out and got the car started but as soon as we turned it off it was totally dead again. They started the car one more time and we let it run for quite some time to charge the battery a little. Trying to be the dutiful husband I told Jane I’d drive her car to Advanced Auto Parts to get the new battery installed while she worked on dinner. As I drove away from the house I had one thought in mind – don’t stall the car because I won’t be able to start it again. Like most men I thought I knew where I was going but I ended up at the NAPA store, not Advanced Auto Parts. That wouldn’t have been so bad except NAPA was closed. So much for my memory and assurance to Jane that I knew where I was going! When I realized my dilemma I called Jane because we’d looked up the store phone number on the internet so I knew she could easily pull it up and tell me where to go. As she was telling me I started backing out of the NAPA lot and stalled the car! To make matters worse it started to thunder and lightning. So there I am, having done exactly what I tried not to do – stall the car! Because the battery was dead there was no air conditioning and I knew I’d have to wait an hour or so before AAA would come. Great!

While all of this was happening and curses were flying out of my mouth Jane was still on the phone. I wasn’t mildly upset, I was totally pissed off. I used to have a really bad temper and it’s gotten much better over the years but every now and then it still raises its ugly head. While it’s usually directed at myself for making some kind of mistake it’s not pretty to be around. It’s a part of me that I really, really dislike.I usually start my day with this phrase, “This is the day the Lord has made so I will be glad and rejoice in it. Today will be a good day because I will approach everything with a positive attitude and I’ll learn from every situation.” Well, my attitude wasn’t so positive there in the NAPA parking lot but I’m learning from it and, as I said in the opening, I hope you do too.Here was my big mistake – I focused on what I didn’t want to have happen which was stalling the car. I can’t remember the last time I stalled the car but as I left the house “don’t stall” was front and center on my mind. I should know better because I teach about this in sales courses.

Have you ever seen the television show Frazier? If you have then maybe you recall the episode where Frazier and Niles tried to learn to ride bikes. Frazier struggled because every time he didn’t want to run into something he kept his eye on it thinking that would help him avoid the obstacle but as you might guess, he’d always run into whatever he kept his eye on! He focused on what he didn’t want to do and that’s what he ended up doing. Frazier’s dilemma is a picture of what occurs in our brains when we think “don’t…”

You see, the brain doesn’t process the “don’t” in a statement but it does picture the object. For example, if I tell you, “Don’t think about elephants,” you will think about elephants, at least momentarily. Crazy as it sounds, the more you try not to think about elephants the more you usually do. To prove my point I often ask golfers in my training sessions, “What do you think when you come to a hole with water?” The typical response is, “Don’t go in the water.” When I ask what happens most of the time people laugh and acknowledge they often end up in the water. Why does that happen? Because the water is what they’re focused on even though it’s prefaced with “don’t.”So what’s a person to do? Very simple, you need to focus on what you want to happen. For me that would be easy on the golf course but unfortunately in the scenario I found myself in I was blind to my own teaching. In a way I was like the accountant who forgets to balance his check book, the investment guy who’s not saving enough for his own retirement or the doctor who “occasionally” over-eats. I failed to take my own good advice. I think a couple of good things will come from this. First, because the situation was so emotional for me I’ll probably catch myself before I make the same mistake again. The other good outcome might be you remembering my story next time you have to make a decision and your choices are “what to do” or “what to not do.” Take it from me, focus on what you want and leave it at that. Doing so might just save you a big headache and a lot of time.

Brian
influencepeople
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer at Influence People, LLC
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence People, LLC. A dynamic keynote speaker, trainer, coach, and consultant, he specializes in applying the science of influence and persuasion in business and personal situations. He is one of only 20 individuals in the world who currently holds the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® (CMCT®) designation. This specialization in the psychology of persuasion was earned directly from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. – the most cited living social psychologist in the world when it comes to the science of ethical persuasion. Brian’s passion is helping people achieve greater professional success and enjoy more personal happiness. He does this by teaching people how to ethically move others to action through the science of persuasion.
6 replies
  1. Eily
    Eily says:

    Why did you drive the car with the bad battery to the shop? Were you not able to take the battery out and drive it to the shop in your other car?

    Reply
  2. Brian
    Brian says:

    Eily,
    Mostly because I'm a dork and I thought it would be no big deal to drive it a couple of miles and have them do it. I learned my lesson…next time make Jane drive it. ; )

    Brian

    Reply
  3. Davor
    Davor says:

    Aaaaarrgh! Happened to me so many times. Starting the day with a firm decision to enjoy it and learn from every situation… and then bum!

    That's the way life teaches us. But as Jean De La Bruyere said:

    "Out of difficulties grow miracles."

    Feel free to check my humble collection of quotes and sayings. The above quote isn't there yet, but will be soon.

    Take care

    Reply
  4. Brian
    Brian says:

    Davor,
    Is the modern day translation "When life serves you lemons make lemonade"? : )

    Richard,
    You're welcome. Hopefully someone will think about this and avoid my mistake.

    Reply

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