Thursday, December 27, 2012

my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions

my car won't start - the yin and yang of emotions


This morning my car didn't start.

my Toyota 4Runner


It was early - 5:15 am. It was dark. It was cold. And my first two reactions were anger and frustration. I rattled off some cus words. I banged my hand on the steering wheel. Then I changed my mind.

I realized there wasn't any reaction on my part that was going to have a positive effect on the outcome of the situation. Instead, I spent a minute contemplating my options and the potential outcomes on my day. I came up with a game plan, and then I executed:

  • The door lights and audio chimes worked, and the clock had the correct time, so it probably wasn't the battery. Maybe it was the starter?
  • The engine made no sound whatsoever when I turned the key. Strange, if it was the starter, I should hear the car trying to start..
  • I was definitely going to be behind schedule today. Could I get to work on time? Not if I needed to be towed and wait around for a mechanic's shop to open.
  • The mechanic I trust is near my office, but that's too far away for a free tow. How much would it cost to get my car over there? Would it be better to find an authorized repair shop near my house?
  • OK - let's get to it.
  • First, I have to try to jump start it. If that doesn't work, I'm not out anything. But if it does work and I didn't try it, I'm an idiot.
  • Then I'll call my road side assistance, and I'll have to adjust depending on what happens from there.


I pulled opened the garage, backed out my wife's car, hooked up the cables, and Voila! My car started easily.

Sometimes we make a bigger deal out of something than it really is. We overreact. We give too much power to things we have no control over.

Better to focus our energy on the things we can control. Be proactive. Be ahead of the curve. Be prepared for uncertainty. And be ready to choose your reaction to things you can't control.

It reminds me of a Chinese proverb I read about awhile ago:
Once upon a time there lived a farmer in the three kingdoms of China.
This farmer had a son who worked the farm with the help of a horse.
The horse ran away one day.
The local farmers came and said, "How unlucky, your horse ran away."
The farmer said, "Perhaps."
The next day, the horse came back, but was followed by a whole herd.
When the local farmers found out, they said, "You have great luck."
Again, the farmer said, "Perhaps."
Another day passes, and the farmer's son broke his leg while riding some of the new horses.
The local farmers again came, and this time they said, "What bad luck, your son broke his leg."
The farmer repeated, "Perhaps."
On the fourth day, the emperor's army were recruiting for the army and because of the son's broken leg, did not recruit him.
The local farmers this time said, "What great luck, your son did not get recruited."
The farmer again, repeated, "Perhaps."


In health, fitness, goal achievement, and life in general: Do your best. Try your hardest. Control what you can control. But there will be setbacks. How we react to the setbacks can be the difference between winning and losing.

-Chris Butterworth

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