In dramatic situations of life and death, if we are unfortunate enough to experience it, we often think “this can’t be happening to me.” But, when we are caught in those moments, the reality is that it is. Car crashes, plane crashes, ships capsizing, trains derailing, being held at gunpoint, house robberies are all occurrences that happen to average people like you and me. We all think that it just can’t happen to us.
Yet, even more terrifying than the event is our response to it. If the thought, “this can’t be happening to me” sticks with you, you end up freezing in place, like a statue. You think others will come to our rescue or others will tell you what to do. Yet, often, in these situations, it’s on us to survive. And it’s those who complete that mind shift that survive, if there is a possibility of surviving.
In the book, “The Survivors Club” by Ben Sherwood, he mentions an event on September 28, 1994 where, in the middle of the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Sweden, a car ferry had capsized in the freezing cold waters. Paul Barney, one of the few survivors, recalls how as the ship was turning over, many people froze in place waiting for the crew to tell them what to do. However, he took his survival into his own hands by moving to a point in the boat that would be above water once if fully flipped over. Once the ship sunk, he brought himself onto a raft with several others. There was no shelter from the frigid lashing of the waves and many people succumbed to the cold and died. Yet, he survived along with a few others.
What was the difference? In the final analysis, it was him taking responsibility for his own survival. In life and in business, we are caught up with many minor negative occurrences that influence our decisions. We often blame outside events on the decisions we make and for the suffering we face. Yet, if we take responsibility for our own survival in these minor situations, we start to make decisions that take us to our goals. And when we take responsibility for these small events, we will remember to take responsibility in larger life and death events.
In the end, it’s up to you to say, “this IS happening to me and it’s up to me to get through this.” Whether it’s poverty or a ship capsizing, it’s on us to get to our goals. Don’t be a frozen statue. Take responsibility and survive.