Have you ever been stuck in traffic? As a small town kid, the only traffic I had to worry about were the trucks and trailers after the local livestock show. Now that I live in a moderately sized city I deal with traffic on occasion…and I hate it. I’m not talking about the kind of anger you have for murderers and the IRS. This is serious anger, reserved for times when you step on a Lego or stub your pinky toe on the coffee table. I have an unhealthy hatred for being stuck in a traffic jam. Which is why the following story out of The Success Principles is even more impressive.
The year was 1994, and the greater Los Angeles area had been hit with a devastating earthquake that damaged one of the main freeways into the city. What was normally a 1-hour commute became a 3-hour commute. CNN wandered around the gridlocked highway interviewing drivers as they headed to work. They interviewed one man who gave a typical response, the response I would give. “I hate this traffic! I have been sitting here for a few hours and haven’t moved more than a few inches. I am tired of this and something needs to be done immediately.”
The reporter went the next car and tapped on the window. The man smiled as he rolled down the window and carried on the interview. “The traffic jams haven’t been too bad. I’ve got my laptop and notebooks nearby, my cell phone handy, and I pack a healthy breakfast. I am so busy at work putting out fires that I am almost always behind and don’t get to eat. I have almost no distractions in the car, and I have been getting extra work done. I am now all caught up, and I am listening to my favorite book on tape.”
We are consistently subjected to things that are out of our control. We get stuck in traffic, we lose our job, or we get overlooked for a promotion. Many people blame others for their situation and react negatively, which in turn creates a series of events that can spiral into a downward cycle.
Basically, we are 100% in control of our lives, our happiness, our success. Regardless of the Action (the traffic jam), our Reaction (being positive and prepared) determines our Outcome (success, happiness, etc.).
I have seen countless amounts of people who are positive in the face of adversity, and have positive outcomes. Whenever life gets hard or things go awry, be careful of your reaction…it will determine your outcome.
Have you experienced a time when your reaction directly affected your outcome? Do you know someone who is consistently positive and positive things happen to them?