Now don’t get me wrong, I like achievement. A lot. In fact, the primary reason I advocate a low-stress mindset is that it is the straightaway which allows achievement to run. Stress, fear, anxiety all put curves in the road that cause achievement to slow down to navigate. Let me give you an example:
Two days ago in Austin, Texas, the roads were probably too wet for how fast I was driving. I had come down a hill after a good business lunch and my head was somewhere else. The light at the intersection had been showing green for a while and so as I took the left turn, I accelerated into the turn – not a good idea on wet streets. I felt the back tires give way and the tail of my car began sliding to the right into the other lane. Immediately I remembered my wreck years ago, the wreck with my wife and children in the car.
We had been traveling back home late at night and it had been raining. I was sleepy, but assured my wife that I was fine to drive and I wanted to get home to my own bed. We were driving through a hilly area and came up to a spot where our highway intersected another highway at a stop sign. It was late, I wanted to get home, and there did not seem to be any traffic, so I accelerated through the stop sign turning left onto the new highway. And I felt my back tires let go of the pavement. As they started to hydroplane to the right, I panicked. “My babies are in the car; my wife is asleep beside me! What if we go off the edge??” As fear mounted, I jerked the wheel all the way to the right… and overcorrected. In horror I watched as the world began slowly, then with increasing speed, to spin to the left. At first I could make out images, but quickly everything in sight meshed together into the same kind of blurred vision you see from the seat of one of those spinning carnival rides. Time stopped. I was desperately smashing the break, cranking the wheel. Was I screaming or was it my babies in the back seat? Then it happened.
The back quarter panel of our little Ford Escort crumpled into a guardrail. I have never been so overjoyed to hear my car get ruined in my entire life.
My wife was now FULLY awake. “What! The!…???” You get the picture.
So two days ago my back tires let go of the pavement and this was the movie running in my head. But in the last few years, I have practiced purposeful calm in tense times. So I said my trigger phrase, “It just doesn’t matter,” (more about how this became my trigger phrase in a future blog post) and I smiled. Then it happened.
I instinctively leaned back in my seat, turned the wheel in the direction I wanted to go, fishtailed back and forth a few times in my own lane, and then drove on down the road without incident.
The old thinking is that we have to build massive energy and stress to achieve. But in a fast-moving world where creativity is vital to win, extreme achievement is determined by how we react to surprises in the moment. Extreme achievement launches from a position of peace.
And it is better on car insurance.