How to lessen your chances of being railroaded.

Sometimes in life, we make decisions that take an awful turn for the worst, and it is entirely our own fault. We can’t divorce ourselves from the blame, we messed up royally, and have to deal with the consequences as gamely as possible.

There are times though, when we are the unfortunate animal, that is crossing the train tracks when the 14:02 comes barreling into us at  90 mph. We heard it coming, we felt the rumble, and saw the leaves of the tree quivering. Still we thought – ” I’ll be across well before it’s even close,” but we were wrong, and horribly so. The impact is terrifying in its brutality, we breathe our goodbyes to life as we know it. A few minutes later we wake up, astonishing! We survived, we are still alive. So we pick ourselves up, and survey the damage – we are a bruised, blooded mess of arms and legs.

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I was recently railroaded. I should have seen it coming, but I assumed and inferred rather than establishing and confirming. If I had taken the time to double-check, I would have found out that the 14:02 is always three minutes early on Wednesdays.

So friend, even if you are sure, there is no harm double checking. Make the extra phone call, clarify the email, repeat the question. I won’t put a percentage on it, but I am sure that we could save ourselves at least 87.3% of life’s anguish (I guess I did put a percentage on it) by being thorough in our home work.

A good week to you, Peace!

Este ou Aquele

I had wonderful Sabbath yesterday. I went to PMC and Dwight Nelson preached a very challenging message, you can check it our here:  “Of Perfume and Tears and Grumpy Old Men”.

Afterwards I went to a Brazilian potluck with my wife. We lined up, and right at the end of the table was some kind of pie, and I asked the server if I could have some. She said “este ou aquele.” I stared at her blankly. The she said in English  “You came to a Brazilian potluck so you must speak Portugese – “este ou aquele.” My wife eventually came to my rescue and explained what she was asking: (this or that?)

It reminded me of a trip I took to Cedar Point Theme park in the middle of a sweltering Ohio summer. We had been there for a few hours and my lips were sewn together from thirst, I was desperate for water.  I went to a concession stand to find water. The person who came to serve me was a didn’t look any older than 16. He reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, skinny, nonchalant and totally clueless. This was our conversation (my English accent, his American):

Me: “Can I have some warter please?”

Boy: “huh”

Me: “Can I have some warter please?”

Boy: “huh? you want what?”

Me: “Warter”

Boy: “You want fries?”

– at this point I am starting to wonder about this kids mental capacity. The lights are on but nobody is home…

Me: “No, I just want warter” ( desperate I turn our conversation into Pictionary and start signing for the kid)

Boy: “You want Coke?”

– Now I am thinking, good grief! Am I going to die of thirst in an American Theme park? Where is my American cousin when I need him?

Then the light bulb came on in my head, and I understood I had the answer to my own dilema. I thought to myself “this kid has probably never left Ohio and so my accent is throwing him off,  so let me meet him where he is.”

Me: ” Can I have some WARDER please”

Boy: “Ohh, warder, sure!”

I always think about this story with a smile, but it forever holds an important lesson for me. That is this – I sometimes miss opportunities in life because I don’t take the time to understand other people, but get frustrated that they don’t understand me.

In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication and opens the way for a plethora of opportunities!