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Why Are Problems Like Buses?

From my experience, once you have handled a major setback and come through it, you can handle one again. Cold comfort if it is your first time facing real adversity, but if you can see it as an opportunity to learn it makes it easie
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They always arrive in threes...

Ever had one of those, "I wish I'd stayed in bed" days? You know the ones where your Midas touch turns everything to dust not gold? You know your day is looking rocky when the car won't start and it isn't even cold, or wet. You arrive at work and the coffee machine has broken down and IT tell you they are upgrading your system so you'll have to wait, "a while" and the while turns into hours.

On their own, these irritations may delay you, set you back a bit, put you in a bad mood but they are not serious problems, or are they? The cumulative effect of these niggling annoyances can throw you off your game, cause you to make mistakes, make you snappy and irritable. Then, when a significant obstacle appears you are less capable of dealing with it.

Picture courtesy of Sarah Vitale

Putting problems into perspective

As a public speaker I've had my fair share of annoyances; technical breakdowns at conferences; traffic snarl up's; flight delays; organisers forgetting you were coming (yes seriously!). My talk sometimes starts with how I became a public speaker- as a significant career change after my injuries from the train crash. Now that was a problem- a major shift in my perception of self-worth and purpose. Life-shattering events tend to put things into perspective. However, you don't have to experience anything quite so awful to shift your own perspective.

Life is too short to sacrifice energy fighting battles that are in fact small skirmishes. Minor irritations happen to all of us but they are minor and don't deserve the stress we attach to them. So, when your car breaks down, breathe deeply and call the RAC, a colleague, a taxi, or catch the bus. Have those options in place, in case, and then you won't be fazed by it.

At work, minor annoyances will sometimes go away if you simply ignore them...let them fizzle out. It is a judgment call. Decide the real impact of these small problems and be objective, not emotional about them.

Then, you have the resources to deal with bigger obstacles, what I call the stop you in your tracks temporarily type of problem. So, yes, the company network going down IS a problem. Now's the time to get on the phone, find some ways to navigate around the lack of email, internet and connectivity. I usually figure out a couple of strategies to deal with these types of obstacles to my goals and try them both, sometimes simultaneously, to see which works best. The good thing about this, is that you learn from navigating around a situation like this and can apply those strategies in the future.

Big brick walls

Occasionally we are faced with huge obstacles, life changing occurrences that cannot be ignored or got around. Divorce, death, bankruptcy, recession, redundancy, serious ill health all come into this category. They rock you back on your heels and you have two alternatives; bang your head against the wall, or figure out a new way to reach your goals, a different path. This is the time for reflection, and a certain amount of courage. Doing what you've done before is not going to work. You have to trust that you can find an alternative route, and not be afraid to ask for help. These major setbacks need some time for you to make the next step. Don't allow yourself to be rushed into hasty choices- you need to step back from the situation and assess it from a distance.

From my experience, once you have handled a major setback and come through it, you can handle one again. Cold comfort if it is your first time facing real adversity, but if you can see it as an opportunity to learn it makes it easier.

So, the next time those troublesome problems come along as a threesome, step back a little and take a long hard look. Are these "real" problems, mountains or molehills? If a real obstacle presents itself, get some help, take advice, figure out ways around it. If you are experiencing a major setback, don't struggle on alone and don't rush into a solution. You may have to take a different path, but it can be a great learning experience and the new path may well be better than the old one.


Paddington Train Crash Survivor known as 'The Lady in the Mask' - Motivational Keynote Speaker :

I use the experiences and lessons I have learnt from before, during and after the train crash to show companies and individuals how to tackle their own obstacles and overcome challenges in a smarter way. I inspire them to think bigger, take on seemingly impossible odds and get results beyond what they might otherwise expect.

To book Pam call +44 (0)7768 120949 or email

Read her inspiring, 5* rated autobiography 'From Behind the Mask'.

Get your author signed hardback copy or download the eBook now from Pam's website:

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