There's three types of situation we can be in.
- A survival situation - If it is a physical situation life or limb will be at risk. In relationships or business the impact might be measured in loss of business, finances, or relationship breakdown. Survival situations are characterised by immanent and often dynamic threats which need to be dealt with decisively and quickly.
- Just living - Things are neither extremely good, or extremely risky. These are great times for considered, proactive change or a deliberate, intentional rest.
- A thriving situation - Life (or business) is going very well. Opportunities abound. Many aspects of the environment are aligning to create positive alliances, growth and possibilities. Make hay while the sun shines.
If we know what situation we are facing, we can intentionally and deliberately respond to it. It's amazing how often people think or react as if they are in a different situation to the one they are actually in. Sometimes people think, feel and act as if they are in a survival situation when they are not. It adds stress, they miss opportunities, and potentially they create a survival situation where there wasn't one.
The reverse can also be true, that we are in a survival situation, but think feel and act as if we are not. Very risky!
One of the clearest examples I see of this is on the road, but it happens in business and relationships as well.
Every day I see a driver pick up their phone to check or send a message. It’s a clearly established fact that the instant you do so you massively increase the chances of crashing your car.
Recent research by Professor Dingus in Virginia quantified this. He says, “Taking your eyes off the road to dial a cell phone or look up an address and send a text increases the risk of crashing by 600 to 2,300 per cent.”
If people were genuinely aware of this risk, they would never pick up the phone on the road. It is a genuine, life-at-risk survival situation. To be able to do that, there’s got to be a lack of acknowledgement of the real state. Either a sense that ‘I’m so bloody good at driving, this risk doesn’t apply to me” or “The traffic is cruisey, I’ve got heaps of space and time”.
There’s only three possible outcomes.
- A near miss. - This is the best possible outcome. It might shake the driver out of their complacent denial.
- A sudden, violent reminder that Phone + Driving = Accident - This is at the very least destructive, always traumatic and in the worst case scenario, fatal. Definitely a bad outcome.
- The driver gets away with it, reinforcing their delusion. - This actually significantly increases the future potential for 1 or 2 to occur. The fact the driver got away with it increases their sense that they are not in a survival situation, making it more likely that they will txt again, perhaps in increasingly busy traffic conditions, and for longer periods of time.
All survival states are like this. The risk may not be directly to life or limb. It might be measured in financial or relationship terms, but ultimately lack of decisive and timely action will inevitably lead to a confrontation with the risk.
How do you determine what situation you are facing?