Today I spent an extra 90 minutes in the car because of a god damn bear.

Today I spent an extra 90 minutes in the car because of a god damn bear.

This isn’t even a metaphor.

For an Australian girl, this was a fair bit of fun but then it got really boring and it’s a whole thing…until I chose my reaction.

So let me take you back to the beginning of my day. I’ll skip my hotel flooding overnight, my initial rental car being ‘not returned’ (read: stolen) and just go to the part where I pick up a hire car and start driving ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD.  It doesn’t sound like much but have you seen San Fran?

Anyway…. about 20 minutes out of Santa Cruz, my first planned stop, the two lane freeway is diverted up into a beautiful red wood National Park and on very windy narrow roads.

This National Park was one of the most beautiful parks I had ever seen and initially I LOVED this. It was an adventure after all, right?

The first 30 minutes was great. The sights and the views were incredible but as I was approaching the first HOUR of bumper to bumper traffic – I was now starving and needing a rest room – the novelty has well and truly worn off. I had to do the same things over and over again – accelerator, crawl for a bit and then brake. Repeat a million times. I couldn’t take my eyes off the road due to the treacherous conditions and according to my GPS I wasn’t close to the end.   

I felt the uncomfortableness bubble up inside me. I could be at the hotel (WHICH HAD A POOL EXCUSE ME!) but I’m stuck snail pacing up and down the country side. This sucked and I was now well and truly over it… and in that moment, I made a choice.

One of the most important pieces of literature ever written was a keynote address by David Foster Wallace – This is Water. I can’t link it for legal reasons but please go and google it and see if you can find it.
The talk however can simply be summarised by this idea – you get to choose your reaction in every single situation you are faced with. Stop using your default settings and start making choices.

So it’s what I did. I chose my reaction. I decided that nothing was going to get me out of where I was and I could rage or be pissed or frustrated but I’d only end up doing it to myself. It wasn’t going to change anything.

I decided to use my time productively. I pulled out my phone and I started a voice recording. Within thirty minutes I had multiple blog ideas, client notes, ideas for a new course and some action items that I needed to do this week.

Did it make the time go faster? Nope. Did I change my situation? Not really. But I changed my reaction and could find meaning in the time that was allocated and the situation I was in.

Please go Google this talk because it is epic but if you don’t, I want to challenge you to something this week. When you find that feeling bubbling up when you’re stuck in traffic or a huge line of the supermarket – choose a different reaction. Take a minute to breathe or to commit to some mindfulness. Take a minute people watch around you and say hello to someone next to you. These tiny little things can actually start massive massive change.

While I know this isn’t my usual business positioning tips and tricks as per say this week, when did you last see a true leader super rattled about something they could control?


I leave you with this - CHOOSE YOUR REACTION. And avoid bears wherever possible.

Jemimah AshleighComment