You woke up late and then burned the eggs that you were going to have for breakfast. There are no more eggs because you never did make it to the store yesterday. On the way to the office where you are going to give what might be the most important presentation of your career you spilled coffee down the front of your shirt.
When you get to the office the room that you had reserved has been damaged from a water pipe leak so you must move to another smaller room without the AV equipment that you were expecting. It is then that you notice the copies of the handouts have spelled the client’s name wrong in several places. There is not much time left to make it all good before the presentation begins. It seems that everything is going wrong, what are you going to do?
Here are seven things to remember at that moment.
Things to remember when life gets tough
1. You’re still alive
As long as you still are drawing breath and the grass is growing below your feet and not over your head you can overcome these challenges. There is something that you can do. Worst case scenario you will lose your job but more likely the worst thing that will happen is that your friends will make fun of you for your flop of a presentation. But you will not flop this presentation.
Because you are alive you can find a way to use that stain on your shirt as part of your presentation. Because you are alive you can make the adjustments to the room setting and find a way to make it work. Because you are alive you can fix the glitch on the handouts. Remember that you only need to redo the copies that will be given to the client. Because you are still alive you will find a way to overcome the potential disaster.
2. It could be worse
At the moment you might forget that at least you have a fridge to hold your eggs and a stove to burn the eggs with. You might forget that you have this job and that you have earned the respect and honor of representing your organization. Others have determined that you are valuable and that you will be able to shine.
It could be worse in that everyone could be expecting you to fail so you spent the past ten years living under a bridge somewhere. You could have no shirt, no presentation and no hope. This is not as bad as it could be.
3. You are about to receive an education
In overcoming the challenges that you are now facing you are about to learn about your real integrity. Integrity is more than just honesty. When we talk about the integrity of an airplane we are talking about it staying together and performing under intense pressure. Your metal is about to be tested.
While it likely scares you, for most of us we will come through. When that happens you will learn what you have under the hood. Then the next time a seemingly pressure-filled situation presents itself you will find a way to overcome and win because you already know that you can.
4. Things will look better in the morning
Even if the whole thing turned out to be a disaster just remember the song from the musical “Annie” “The sun will come out tomorrow!” When the day is done and you lay your head down you will be kicking yourself. But tomorrow you will have a great story to tell.
You will be able to tell the next generation what might be the funniest story that they have heard in a long time. Not only that your story will become an encouragement to the next guy who comes across a possible failure and wants to give up. Tomorrow will come and all things will be new. Go ahead and sing the song. It can change your perspective.
5. Notice who is standing by you
Mr. Rogers, that man that made his neighborhood famous, once reported that his mother had told him when he was feeling uneasy about some disaster that he might see on television or hear about on the radio that he needed to look for the helpers. The helpers are always there. Heroes are simply waiting for an opportunity to prove their valor.
Think of the 9/11 disaster. Nothing was more impressive than the men and women who were running into the collapsing building. Others were there to support the rescue workers. Everyone did their part.
As your disaster unfolds who is there supporting you and loving you? Take time to notice this. These are your real friends and family. These are the ones who will always be there for you. These are your heroes. These are the ones that will propel you through the disaster to victory.
6. Something is going right
Even though everything seems to be going wrong, that is rarely the whole, true story. In the midst of all of this, there are things that are going right. Look for those things. They might be tough to see because it is easy to get your mind on the disaster.
Focus on some piece that is going right. Be creative. Maybe for the first time you are seeing your team come together. This is why most companies actually need a disaster to make them excel. Nothing brings together a team like the absolute need to work together. In those moments the politics and the minor issues fall to the waste side. Look for something that is going right; you will find encouragement there.
7. You are the hero of this story
Most of our lives really are a part of a larger story. When we watch a movie or television other people are playing the lead roles. But here you are in a movie of your own. This time you get to play the lead. Every hero faces down a disaster and comes away with the beautiful damsel and the esteem of all of the men.
When you come through this situation and those that had put their faith in you hear what you did they will be even more impressed. Anyone can give a flawless presentation when everything goes right. But it takes a real hero to overcome disaster and win. You are that hero.
After work that night when you have bought a fresh shirt and are enjoying dinner with your team, you will be able to laugh at all that went wrong. At some point in the evening, you will raise a glass and toast this team that worked together and gave an incredible presentation in the worst of situations. The bond that has taken place within this team will serve you well into the future.