Thursday, May 6, 2010

Conscious Personal Strengths for Dead Batteries and Floods

Torrential rains and street flooding kept us from the Nashville airport Sunday, so we returned to San Antonio a day late. And our plane was a half-hour behind schedule. Otherwise, the flight was pleasant and uneventful, and our luggage was waiting for us at the baggage claim carousel.

On the way to our car, we stopped at a validation machine to prepay our parking fee with a credit card. We tried several times, but the machine appeared to be broken. We tried the machine next to it, with the same result. The sun was about to set, and I was tired and eager to get home. I could feel my patience wearing thin.

After we found our car, we were surprised to find that the battery was dead. The battery had been checked a couple weeks ago, and it tested out fine. My first thought was to call AAA. Kathleen suggested that airport security might be able to give us a jump. That sounded like a good idea; they probably have to deal with this problem several times a day.

As we walked back to the terminal, I felt distressed and unhappy. We should have been on our way home by now. It was frustrating to have to deal with this. Why was the battery dead? Would we be able to find a security officer? Would he be able to help us?

I think about personal strength several hours a day. It's my passionate interest. So naturally I began to wonder which strengths I should be exercising to deal with this situation. Composure, to keep my emotions under control and remain calm. It was a small problem after all, and it would be a mistake to make a big deal out of it. Decisiveness, to do the right thing at the right time. Patience, to allow the problem solving process to take its course. And forgiveness, to avoid blaming myself or Kathleen for the dead battery. I consciously made an effort to engage these strengths. 

When we arrived curbside in front of the terminal, an officer on a bicycle greeted us. "You folks look lost. Do you need help?" I explained our situation, and he said, "I'll call a service vehicle. He'll be there in a few minutes. Do you need a lift back to the car?" 

We opted to walk back, and a minute after we returned a small truck with a flashing yellow light approached us. He had our car started in a few minutes, and we were on our way.

It was an interesting way to end our vacation. In retrospect, the incident reinforced two lessons:

1. In a challenging situation, it helps to engage specific personal strengths in a conscious way

2. Sometimes not one, but a cluster of strengths are needed to deal with a situation.

Life happens, and we deal with it. Back in Nashville, the home of a cousin flooded the day before when 18 inches of rain caused a nearby creek to overflow its banks. They suffered heavy losses. They would need to be strong, too. A lot stronger than I needed to be in my relatively trivial situation. They'll be dealing with their challenge for a long time.

 Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (Photo by Kathleen Scott, used with permission.)

1 comment:

Megan Zuniga said...

I remember when I was younger, i used to blame the boy who broke my heart for the traffic, weather, every petty bad thing that ever happened to me. Did it help me make me feel better? No. Did it help me with my situation? No. Actually it made me more miserable. I know it's hard to not complain when bad things happen. But there are reasons for that. I've read stories on 9/11 how there are people who were late for the office that day, who overslept, who left something at home and had to get it back. They realized how lucky they really were that they averted disaster. I always think about that whenever I'm stuck in traffic or something. (that maybe I am avoiding disaster.
Yeah, we all know life is hard. Sometimes the small things can get to us. Sharing an inspirational article that may help you during the tough times.