It had rained for two days, and the river flowed. Most of the year, the river that cuts through the town where I live is dry, they even have “boat races” in the dry riverbed every August. It’s so dry that even small amounts of rain lead to flooding. Nevertheless, people still need to get to work, and kids need to go to school.
It was just after eight in the morning, and I was taking my kids to school. There’s only one elevated roadway in our town that cars can cross regardless of flooding. It was out of the way, and we were running late, so we crossed our fingers and took the shortest route.
As I approached the water covered roadway, I did some quick calculations that my car was high enough to make it through the water without breaking down or floating away. The road was open. If the water got too high, there would be a barrier closing it off to traffic. We were barrier-free and good to go by car, sure, but pedestrians?
I slowed down before driving through the water to minimize splashing; on either side of my car were the “walkers” on their way to school.
The many kids who walked, and needed to cross the river that had spilled across the road, did a mixture of five things:
- Stopped and turned around.
- Kept their shoes and socks on their feet and splashed through with a scowl.
- Took off their socks and shoes and crossed the flood.
- Waited for the cars to pass to avoid splashes before scurrying across.
- Laughed as they got wet from head to toe, thanks to motorists who didn’t care about their splash.
The water was an inconvenience for some and an impossible barrier for others. In reality, it had little to do with the water or the flood. The blockade was all about their perceptions, resilience, and persistence.
How important was it to cross? Would it ruin their day or add some interest? Could it be just the excuse they were looking for to turn back around and head home?
They were hit with an inconvenience for sure, what made some of them decide that crossing was impossible?
When you see something unexpected, does your mind immediately turn towards inconvenience or impossible?
What’s the river that you need to cross?
I’ve talked to friends this week who are wondering if they should cancel concerts or travel due to the coronavirus.
Others are hearing a lot of no to their latest business offerings when they want to hear yes and are wondering if it’s a sign.
Then there are the book writers who have no time because of their kids (those pesky kids!). If it’s not kids, it’s because of work or the weather or broken alarm clock. (You get it.)
Or the people who tell me they want to lose weight or get healthier, and every time they commit to going to the gym, there is one roadblock after another making it hard.
As with the kids walking to school, the decision has less to do with the obstacle – it’s personal.
Break the Frame Action:
So, what’s your river? What have you labeled as impossible when may be more inconvenient? Moreover, what are you making up?
As you wrestle with inconvenience vs. impossibility like those kids crossing the road to go to school, grab a pen and paper or open Evernote, and answer the following:
Name your river.
What would it take for you to cross?
What’s stopping you?
How challenging is it?
Do you have a default in similar situations?
What makes you afraid of what you’re facing? What does the feel like?
What’s the worst case if you stop here?
If you can’t do it the way you want, what options are there for you?
Where is your bridge even if it’s out of the way?
Is it worth it?
Who do you need to be to cross the divide?
It’s ok if the right thing is to stop and turn around just like it’s ok if the right thing for you to push forward. Instead of letting your fears be your guide, choose mindful action, and it will take you where you both want and need to go.