Imagine this: It’s the morning of a significant event in your career life – an interview for your dream job, your annual work review, or a meeting with a very important client. This is the day when you should not and cannot be late or even the least bit rattled. You’ve got to be on your A-game.
Your shoes are polished, tie is straight, and just when you’re about to rehearse your presentation one last time, crisis hits. A pipe bursts and the basement is flooding. Or the dog gets loose and is tearing through the streets. In the blink of an eye, your big day gets turned upside down.
I’ve been there, and I want to help you handle when it happens to you. Because it will.
It’s a lean time for my family, so in addition to his day job, my husband, Rob, has been driving for Uber in order to make ends meet. I use that term loosely, because ends don’t always meet. Sometimes they’re not even in the same room. But I digress…
My husband and I are also church planters, and it was the one Sunday a year when we were expecting a visit from the district superintendent. The purpose of a DS visit is not only to provide spiritual and emotional support, but also to hold us accountable in areas of leadership. So, this is the day you want everything to run like clockwork.
Our emergency situation began at 11:30 the evening before. As an Uber driver, Rob’s biggest fear was somebody throwing up in the vehicle. This fear became reality just hours before the van needed to be loaded up with equipment. (We rent space in a community center, so we’ve got to load in and load out each week.)
Since professional cleaners are not open at that hour, this was going to have to be a do-it-yourself job. To add to difficulty, temperature was 14°F. Feeling miffed, Rob dumped a large box of baking soda over the mess to absorb the stench and made the decision to go to the car wash at 7am. It seemed wise to tackle it during daylight. We normally head out with both family vehicles loaded with passengers and gear at 8:30am, so this seemed like enough time.
The next morning, 7 o’clock rolled around and guess what… The van won’t start.
“Alright, then, let’s at least get the car loaded,” he thought.
Problem. Car won’t start either. Turns out car batteries don’t like the cold. We’ve got to get to our meeting space with everyone and everything at 9:00am for a 10:00am start. Chaos was knocking at our door, with exasperation close behind. We wouldn’t let them in.
Instead, we trusted God to get us through. Rob called AAA. He called our oldest daughter who lives 20 miles away. He posted a request for assistance on Facebook. Then he waited. Before you knew it, a fleet came to our rescue.
Our friend who happens to be the pastor of a church in town brought us his truck in case we would need it. It was so close to his service time, he was already wearing his microphone. On his heels was another friend, ready to give us jump starts. He left his house so quick, he didn’t even tie his bootlaces. My daughter and her husband were next to arrive with their two compact cars to take what they could. AAA arrived last, but stuck with us until both vehicles were running. (The car was being really stubborn.)
So here are five strategies that helped us through the unexpected difficulties that morning. I’m sure they’d work for you too.
1. Keep your cool.
Remain level-headed and maintain composure. A bad attitude will only multiply your distress. Use your critical thinking skills to determine the best way to handle the dilemma.
2. Call for help.
Friends can save the day. Swallow your pride, and admit you can’t get through this alone. If you are not a praying person, now is a good time to start!
3. Recognize hidden blessings.
If Rob’s passenger hadn’t tossed her cookies, he wouldn’t have even thought about starting the van at 7:00am. To discover two dead batteries at our usual depart time would have been even more disastrous. Look for silver lining.
4. Roll with the punches.
Things won’t always go as perfectly planned, but you can’t let it cripple you. Our service began on time, we enjoyed a nice dinner with the DS, and we had complete peace. All the while the vomit was still in the van!
5. Learn from the trial.
Assess how you can best prevent repeat situations. Implement practical ways to keep blunders from happening. Maybe now Rob will take my advice about providing “car-sickness” bags.
Dealing well with difficulties requires emotional control. Approach them rationally and formulate a solution. Ultimately, don’t let a situation drag you down. Do your best to enjoy everyday, no matter what it brings. And when you’ve gotten over your hurdle, help someone else get over theirs!