There's always a choice
Steven Covey recommended me to read Victor Frankl's excellent book "Man's search for meaning" and twice this week its most powerful message has crept back into my mind - whatever the circumstances we always have options and can make a choice. Frankl was a Auschwitz survivor who chose to view his condition as a unique opportunity to study human behaviour in an environment which until that time would have been hard to imagine never mind comprehend. As a psychiatrist he decided to make the most of his incarceration and I have no doubt that this state of mind, or attitude if you prefer, was the key factor in his not only living to tell the world but to continue to do so positively and with a clear sense of purpose.
Nigel Risner and I work some of the same speaker circuits and I was very pleased to engage him to address The Academy's Partnership Group last week. His excellent talk included the idea that we are continuously talking to ourselves and do so either as a coach or as a commentator - the first being more helpful. During the workshop, and many occasions since, I have asked myself "is that Peter the coach or commentator talking?" and each time the commentator has appeared I've noticed how poor the tonality is as well as being unhelpful. When the coach has taken over I've marvelled at some of the excellent options I've suddenly noticed.
Many of you will be aware that my good friend Sean Newman was hit by a truck at 70mph as he cycled across America for various cancer charities. Sean will thankfully survive his horrendous injuries which include a fractured back, 2 broken legs and a smashed pelvis. I have no doubt that he will use this experience to become even stronger and can almost hear him say in a few years time "it was a major turning/learning point." But the words I want to quote to you now are not Sean's but his wife Caroline's. On her Facebook page she has been keeping us all updated with Sean's progress and when she posted a photo of Sean's bike in bits, at the side of a dual carriageway, one friend commented how it seemed impossible for the accident to have happened on such a wide, straight road and how he really felt angry about this and how he took huge issue with the truck driver. Here is Caroline's reply:
"It was an accident. Nothing more. In fact we would be happy to meet him - I am sure he is in a crappy place right now and it might help him to know we bear no ill feeling. I think he is about 60 so not a nice thing for an oldie to be carrying around."
Victor Frankl came back to me for the second time - what a choice response! What a great and positive attitude and how much better for everyone involved - Sean, Caroline, their kids, friends, family and the truck driver too, that this is the mindset Caroline has chosen?
Increasingly people seem reluctant to take personal responsibility and often look for someone else to blame for the market, the state of their business/job, their relationships; even their health. But there is another option - a good coach will encourage you to take charge and to be in control of yourself. Vicktor Frankl and Nigel Risner understand this - Caroline Newman lives it.