There is an interesting story associated with this photo, but you probably already guessed that. The precarious position this minivan found itself in was the result of a hiccup in communication, which I believe was mostly caused by some really awful listening on the part of the driver. However, if you ask the driver, he would say it was the the result of some faulty instructions on the part of the passenger. Regardless, after a five hour drive, (following a full day of work), with four kids in the car and few streetlights illuminating the path to our cabin, here is where the car ended up.
No tow truck was coming at that hour so we grabbed our suitcases and walked the rest of the way. By morning, there was a little bit of a crowd gathering around our precariously perched vehicle, wondering aloud, “How the heck did this happen?” After some lighthearted finger pointing, we decided to try to add levity to the situation by snapping this picture before the tow truck driver arrived to ‘right the ship’, so to speak.
Has something like this happened to you? I don’t mean the exact circumstances of course, but an unintended outcome based on a communication breakdown? Most of us have this happen EVERYDAY! Breakdowns are inevitable and are simply a fact of life. So attempting to avoid all breakdowns is a waste of time and effort. Instead we can focus on getting better at announcing when we’re having one and dealing with it in a way that gets us the results we want.
In the book, Lanugage and the Pursuit of Happiness, the authors declare that how we handle breakdowns impacts us in many areas. A big part of our identity – how we see ourselves – is intimately connected with our actions when handling the problems that arise in our life and, as importantly, the story we have created around how ‘right we are’ in dealing with it this way.
The next time you experience a ‘break’ of some kind, take some time to reflect on how you dealt with it. See if you can identify the assessment you might be carrying about ‘what really happened’. Did the conversation that accompanied this break serve you well? If not, here is an opening for you to create a new context, a different story, a more useful next step.