Hitchhiking with Chicken Little
Lesson #102: When faced with a problem, rather than act rashly and increase your odds of doing something stupid, instead THINK and ACT from a position of wisdom.
Today’s Life Lesson was inspired by Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) who sums up our lesson with two simple words (1)…
Sage wisdom for the Chicken Little in your life.
Ah, Mike, the Sky is still falling!
Don’t Panic? Great. I feel so empowered — not.
Come on, Mike, I got a Chicken Little situation here. I need help. I need some water. I need some air. Who took my towel. Heeeeeeelp!
Slow down there, cowboy. Take a breath. Let’s worth through this together.
We face new challenges every day, and that’s going likely to change. But here’s the good news — the sky is actually not falling. You have time to catch your breath. You have time to think.
How you view your problems and how you react to them will make all the difference.
- Do you see your challenges for what they appear to be on the surface — as difficult obstacles designed to stop you?
- Or do you see them for what they could be if you look a little harder — as new opportunities you can use to your advantage?
- Do you react hastily and just try to bulldoze your way through the challenge?
- Or do you take a moment to think first in order to come up with multiple options?
My goal here is to help you understand that how you react to your problems can mean the difference between capitalizing on an opportunity or making another foolish error and missing out…like Chicken Little.
How about an Example?
This is a bit tongue in cheek but amuse me for a moment since my 8-year old son Jax likes it….
Remember that time back in school (for me it was a loooooong time ago!) when your teacher sprang a surprise assignment on you in English class?
Teacher: “Mikey, I want you to give a presentation to the class next week about Abe Lincoln.”
“Ah, ok, Mrs. Wimpydimple.” You replied — totally bummed out at the thought of giving a speech. So went home and cursed life upset that you were now going to have this presentation ‘thing’ hanging over your head all weekend.
Doing your best Chicken Little impression you panicked out the wazoo. But after an hour or two — when you realized this ‘thing’ wasn’t going away — you decided you had to come up with a plan.
After giving it some thought, you came up with the following options:
- Get pissed off, decide not to do the presentation, play Super Mario (2) instead, and just take an F on the assignment.
- Realize that you have more than a week to come up with your presentation so you do a little bit each day to prepare for it. (First step — who the heck is this Abe Lincoln guy anyway?)
- Agree to do the assignment but play Super Mario all weekend and just do everything for the presentation on the day before it’s due.
- Something else — most likely involving playing Super Mario.
Let’s explore the options you had at the time.
- Option A: If you chose this, you’d likely have had a hard time convincing the teacher (and your parents) that it was the correct decision — oh sure, you could have made this decision, but even back then you knew the consequences of it were probably not going to turn out well for you. As a result, you thought twice about picking this choice.
- Option C: It was the same for this choice— at least this option was a bit better than Option A, and you knew you likely wouldn’t fail the assignment, but you also knew you probably wouldn’t score very high either. Sure you could have worked on your Mario skills, but you knew that waiting till the last minute would have put a lot of unnecessary stress on you — trying to finish the school assignment in a rush? It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know what wouldn’t be fun. Try again.
- Option B: Even back then, you knew this was obvious ‘right’ answer (or at least the one your teacher and parents would have wanted you to choose).True, you didn’t like the fact that your teacher gave you a surprise assignment, but you were smart enough to realize it’s just a part of life. So you chose to go with this plan. As the week unfolded you discovered that by doing just a little each day in a calm manner, not only did you gain confidence that the presentation preparation would be easy, but also you discovered that you still had plenty of time to play Mario, and even enjoy the weekend with your friends. When the day came to give the presentation, you were confident and calm — knowing you were well prepared. The result: you knocked the presentation out of the park.
OK, so maybe your younger self wasn’t really that smart (I know that I wasn’t). Maybe you let your Chicken Little self-control you a bit (read: a lot!) longer than just a couple hours. But I like to think that sooner or later you made the right choice. So kudos to your younger self!
What’s the Takeaway?
Adversity happens to all of us and things don’t always go our way. However, if you can stop for a moment and just breath, you’ll soon realize that you have options.
Pick a plan.
Realize the sky is actually not falling.
Follow-through with your plan to the end.
Gain more confidence.
Wait, what about Option D?
Ah, Option D. Yes, we almost forget that.
So, should your younger self have just eliminated that this one like you did with Options A and C? Not necessarily.
Jax used Option D to show some outside the box thinking. (Can you say “Proud Papa?).
Perhaps Option D is the best option of all. Think about it for a moment: you spend a bit of time making sure your presentation is strong and then you add the Minecraft statue into the mix. Can you say ‘extra credit, baby?’
Indeed, if you choose Option D, you get to have your cake and eat it too.
And suddenly life isn’t so hard.
Wait, where did Chicken Little run off to? Oh, it seems he went hitchhiking again…
- The simple phrase “Don’t Panic” is actually on the front page of Adams’ famous book. As Adams amusedly writes, “Despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ in large, friendly letters on the cover.” How appropriate for our discussion. Unfortunately I don’t think Chicken Little ever got a copy.
- In 2018 Super Mario would of course be substituted with Minecraft or Roblox, but shockingly Mario is still hanging on isn’t he? I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Want More Wisdom Like This?
My goal is to help people like you live a better life. I do this by sharing practical tips, life lessons, and action-oriented wisdom that you can use today to live your best life NOW. No BS, just real-world solutions that I can personally verify work. If that sounds like it would be helpful to you, check out my other articles on Medium.