My computer was working perfectly one minute,
then the next I couldn’t open ANY OF MY WORD DOCUMENTS!

Have you ever experienced a very sudden, unpleasant surprise like that?

What did you do in that situation?

Did you use your fear to get so wound up that you went around and around in circles?

Or did you use your fear as reminder to focus on taking immediate micro steps to move forward?

If your reaction to these questions is anything like mine, you badly want to say, “But Jason, OF COURSE I would ALWAYS choose to move forward and NEVER get so wound up as to just go around and around in circles.”

But, for me at least, on far more occasions than I care to admit, I’ve thrown my hands up, stewed, and proceeded to have a Jason Goin’ in Circles Tantrum about whichever problem I happened to be facing…instead of taking micro steps to solve it.

Throwing Goin’ In Circles Tantrums when faced with a problem is a luxury our ancestors most likely didn’t enjoy. I imagine they were quite fearful when a pride of lions were close to them and they had the stark choice between remaining absolutely silent in their hiding place or GETTING EATEN.

Whereas, in our modern, new fangled world, if we have problems the last thing we need to do to survive is remain absolutely quiet.

In fact, we have the freedom to do the exact opposite.  We enjoy an environment where we can throw a fear drenched tantrum for hours and run wildly around our houses like a crazed gazelle, being as loud as we want to be, and no king of the jungle is going to slink through the front door, pounce and have us for his appetizer.

As a veteran of panicking about problems, I notice that even though my body will not be munched on if I choose to have a meltdown….I still have to deal with me.  I can even be my own predator biting at the hope of quickly and favorably solving my problems with the razor sharp fangs of my fear.

When I encountered the problem of losing access to all my documents a few weeks ago, if I had chosen the fear drenched tantrum route, my day might have looked like this (the following is exaggerated for dramatic effect which I think is very fitting because tantrums are nothing if not dramatic):

Jason Freeman’s “Goin’ in Circles” Tantrum Plan

4:14p – Discover the issue of being locked out of all my documents
4:15p to 5:15p – FOCUS on worrying about WHAT IF all my documents are lost forever
5:15p to 6p –  BERATE MYSELF for BEING SO STUPID as to lose all my documents
6p to 7p – BUILD A COMMUNITY IN COMMISERATION by complaining to everyone I can think of about how unfair it is that my computer lost all my documents
7p to 7:45p – SPEND QUALITY TIME feeling unworthy of having a good computer that functions properly
7:45p to 9:15p – PINE ON SOCIAL MEDIA about how my computer is junk and no one else should ever think of owning one
9:15p to 11p – FRET that even if I work up the energy to endlessly wait on hold and talk to tech support that they won’t be able to solve my problem

That would be 6 hours and 45 minutes of very intense and exhausting tantruming while DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING PRODUCTIVE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Have you ever planned out a potential tantrum like this?

I never have before.  But, I must admit, it’s pretty illuminating.

Fortunately, this time, instead of tantrum-ing, I noticed my fear surrounding the document problem, owned that I was feeling afraid and then focused on taking these micro steps:

Jason Freeman’s “Micro Steps Forward” Plan

1- I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out a solution to my problem based on what I know about computers
2- I spent 10 minutes doing a Google search to determine if I could solve the problem
3- I spent 30 minutes talking to a kind gentleman from tech support who solved the problem.

I must say this approach was much more efficient and productive than my Jason Freeman’s Goin’ in Circles Tantrum Plan!!!!

 Take the next micro step. It sounds simple and is simple….until we start getting distracted by nervousness, fear, anger, doubt or any of the other emotion that is complicated to process. This applies whether the destination we’re journeying toward is seemingly small or vastly more complex, like our goals and dreams.

The next time you encounter a problem that is intense enough that it could send you off to Going-Around-in-Circles Land, I challenge you to:

1- Notice that you are on the verge of getting frustrated enough to start going in circles.
2- Pause and take 5 to 10 deep breaths.
3- Take 10 minutes to write out Your Going In Circles Tantrum Plan.
4- Take 10 minutes to write out Your Micro Steps Forward Plan.
5- Take a deep breath and as consciously as you can choose which plan you wish to follow.

In A Nutshell

No Lion, tiger
or bear will feast on you 
if you have an epic

BUT oh my!
Neither do tantrums
solve computer problems.

And this poem
oh my!

JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment.  He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.

He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.

His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.