No Freaking Out Till Its Freak Out Time

Posted on November 14, 2016

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“No Freaking Out Till It’s Freak Out Time.” This is the slogan for my Stay Calm Campaign. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that staying calm does not equate with being apathetic. Staying calm means being present, fully aware and in control. When we stay calm we remain open to possibilities, to seeing things that panic would have otherwise obscured from our vision.   I know we’ve all had the experience of looking for that “thing,” spinning out about it, only to find that once we’ve calmed down, the thing was right in front of us. How about the typical scenario of having an impossible computer malfunction that just goes away as soon as some one walks in the room to help you out with it? Those are pretty classic testaments to the power of calm.

The Stay Calm Campaign came to me from a dream I had. In my dream, I was being chased by a giant shark. I was swimming away and just as I was jumping out of the water onto a floating dock, the shark came from behind to swallow me up in one bite. All of a sudden everything wound down to slow motion and I thought to myself “oh, so this is how it ends this time.” I had the realization that there are times that freaking out can help and there are times that freaking out can’t help. When you’re one second away from being eaten by a shark and there’s not a single other thing you can do, freaking out, screaming, kicking and flailing might actually be useful. However, in most situations that approach would be very counter productive.

That’s the foundation of the Stay Calm Campaign; if there’s any other thing you can possibly do besides freaking out, you have to give it a try. If you can’t think of anything else, it’s ok to take a moment to give it some thought. It’s perfectly OK to delay freaking out while other routes are being pondered. If you’ve done ALL of that and you still can’t think of a single other thing, then go ahead, freak out. (I always tell people “if that’s what you decide, get some video footage and let me know how it worked out.”)

Another thing about staying calm, it motivates others to do the same. When people see you handling a difficult situation like a champ, it inspires them. In this respect it’s perfectly ok to fake it till you make it because the more you practice this the more things will fall into place and the more you’ll get to enjoy the relief of truly being calm. I promise, if you participate in the Stay Calm Campaign your life will completely change. One thing I have to mention as an aside is that humor is a definite enhancement to this campaign. If you use calm and humor together they will alchemize your troubles into wisdom.

I’d like to speak a little about “any other thing you can possibly do besides freaking out.” This does not include pointing fingers, placing blame or giving direction to others. It also does not include expecting others to solve a problem that they may or may not have created. Actions related to the Stay Calm Campaign involve keeping the focus squarely on yourself. I think it’s very important to model “right action” with our own behavior. Think of the “Hundreth Monkey Effect;” one monkey starts washing his food, the other monkeys see it and do the same. The best leaders inspire others to action. It’s much easier and more effective to start something and get others to join than to tell other people what they should do. The Stay Calm Campaign also mandates taking responsibility for our own actions. We try our best. If things go sideways we admit it, fix it if we can and try something else.

The Stay Calm Campaign includes kindness both to ourselves and others. I believe that the reason we as humans come to earth is to learn to get along with each other. It sounds so simple but this is the hardest thing in the world to do as evidenced by our long sordid history. Staying calm just gives us a chance to think, to see and to be compassionate.

I suppose I could go on but I think this is enough to chew on for the moment. At this point I’m more interested in hearing how the Stay Calm Campaign fits into your life. I’d like to know how it works for you and what outcomes it has created.

We might not know what to do in the moment but if we stay calm, the next right thing may very well be revealed.

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