Make the Best of a Bad Situation
Estimated Lesson Time: 6 minutes
I remember the first time I got a flat tire. I was a teenager and only had been driving for about a year. I knew from being in the car with my parents and from watching TV that when you get a flat tire you are supposed to call the car derogatory names, look up to the sky and yell, “Why me God?,” then just be angry while changing the tire. So that is exactly what I did. Later, when I shared my “tragic” story with others, I realized how exciting the experience really was and how the experience actually made me a more confident driver. All too often we react based on how we think we are supposed to react in such a situation, as opposed to taking just a moment to think about the good in the situation and how we can make the best out of the “bad” situation that we cannot change.
The ability to make the best out of a bad situation can play an important role in success. It has been said that one’s true character is revealed in times of adversity. It is in times of adversity when others see us for who we really are, and not just who we are trying to become. There are many obstacles along the road to success. When we encounter these obstacles, our behavior and actions will usually determine if we proceed down the road to success, turn back, or stay where we are indefinitely. At the same time, others will judge us based on our response to adverse situations.
Making the best of a bad situation is all about attitude and action. First, realize that you may not have any control over the situation; you do have control over your response to the situation. Then, choose the appropriate action that will allow you to make the best out of the situation. Here are a few examples:
- Waiting in a long line. I was recently in line at the post office and witnessed a lady huffin’ and puffin’ while complaining how long the line was to anyone who would listen. “Why can’t they get more help?!” she exclaimed, along with saying, “This is ridiculous!” every 30 seconds or so. When she finally left the post office, just about everyone in the room let out a sigh of relief (one person even clapped). When you find yourself in a long line, begin by realizing that your impatience will not make the line go any faster, then do something to keep yourself occupied: read a book, strike up a conversation with another person, or review your goals in your head.
- Being stuck in traffic. The next time you are stuck in traffic, look at the people in the other cars. Although the suffering of others is generally not a source of humor, it is quite humorous watching how people respond to traffic. While in my car, I recently looked over at a gentleman waving his arms in fury screaming at the traffic. He then looked at me, looking at him, and we both started laughing. Like waiting in line, your fury will not make the traffic go away. Take advantage of this time by listening to an audio book or learning a foreign language on audio.
- Getting fired or laid off. How can one make the best of such a devastating event as getting fired? Think about getting fired or laid off as an exchange of security for the opportunity to pursue your true desire. Talk to others that have been fired, laid off, or had their businesses go under, who are now on their new career path. More times than not, these people will say that their “misfortune” turned out to be the best thing that has happened to them.
Here are some general things to remember when faced with a bad situation:
- It is pointless and non-productive to be worried, angry, bored or upset. Although these are usually some of the initial reactions to adversity, we must learn to take control of our emotions and move to a more productive state of mind.
- See the big picture. In most situations we refer to as “bad,” they are really quite insignificant when looking at the big picture. If you are taking a week’s vacation with your family, you miss your flight, and you are fortunate enough to get a flight that leaves 6 hours later, realize that only a small portion of your vacation is affected. Accept the situation and then make the best of it.
- Look for the good in a bad situation. Just about every bad situation has the seed of an equivalent or even greater good; you just need to know where to look. This is where a positive mental attitude really comes in handy. At the very least, bad situations can be written off as a good experience. As Dan Sanford says, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”
- Maintain a good sense of humor. A good sense of humor can make light of just about any bad situation. Saturday Night Live’s Jack Handy once said, “Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.” I know that quote has little to do with making the best of a bad situation, I just thought it was funny.
The next time you find yourself in a bad situation, remember attitude and action. At first, you may feel like you are fighting your true emotions, but remember that negative emotions will only make the situation worse while positive emotions can quickly spread and make the situation better for everyone involved. The ability to make the best of a bad situation is a sign of a true leader.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)