Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” ~Booker T. Washington
“Bad luck comes in threes,” or so they say. I certainly hope so, because that means I’m done for now. In less than a week, our family ranch has seen:
- A windstorm that knocked literally 1000s of avocados off the trees.
- A rare freeze that killed all our specialty potatoes.
- A coyote in broad daylight attacking our free range chickens.
In the world of online courses, for instance, I’ve seen:
- A professor lose her voice on the second day of a two-week taping schedule.
- A professor have all his props sent to the wrong part of the country, so he had none for the first three days.
- A crew member lose all the footage for a professor’s one day of filming on location.
In all these cases, somehow, some way, we figured things out. And we did more than cope—ultimately, we excelled.
It’s all in the attitude.
Being positive, optimistic, and “going with the flow” will get you through most obstacles, and often to something better. At the very least, if you’re not wasting time tearing your hair out or ranting about life’s unfairness, you can get over whatever went wrong and still have a good day.
Here are three things I do to keep myself centered when the unexpected happens.
- Get grateful.
- Get perspective.
- Get going.
Let me unpack that.
- I make a mental gratitude list, including the rotten things as well as the good.
- You don’t know what marvelous things may grow from the challenges you’re facing, and if you take a few minutes simply to list everything you’re grateful for, you will feel better.
- Being grateful gets the emotions out of the way. Then you can think straight again.
- I make a list of at least 7 options or outcomes I haven’t considered.
- It’s all too easy to believe that if what we planned on didn’t happen (or what we didn’t plan on did happen), then that’s it. We’re through. Washed up. All is lost. And other lies…
- Having a number in mind makes it easier to push myself for innovative solutions or a different perspective about what has happened.
- For instance, on the occasion when we lost all our footage, we rewrote all the scenes to work around that content, and it actually came out better.
- I take several deep breaths to center myself, and then I move forward.
- I sort through the options or outcomes, and I pick what will get me through the next few minutes, hours, or days.
- Then I get back to work, ready with a positive attitude to roll with whatever happens.
Today is a new day, my friends. The sunrise was glorious this morning. As I wrap up this post, a flock of yellow-capped birds have descended on the garden outside my office window. I have a course to edit, avocados to pick, and chickens to feed.
Things will go wrong again today. That’s life. But I will roll with it, as I hope you will too.
Marcy McDonald is an Online Course Producer. She helps Subject Matter Experts and Professors create online courses with better content, delivery, and production, for better teaching. She’s developed ~450 online courses for lifelong learners, worked in video and audio studios, and filmed in the field (literally).