My daily morning routine when I have a commute is finely tuned, every moment counts. A final part of the routine is to take my phone and check for new podcasts, download, put phone in jacket pocket and go.

This morning, no wifi, enter password and

Unable to join network

Re-enter password, this time hitting the screen extra hard (because that always works)

Unable to join network

Oh for goodness sake its been the same password since forever. So I go to my reference file in Evernote (get me Mr Organised) and check the password, make sure the caps and other characters are correct; Re-enter password

Unable to join network

By now I’m getting really agitated my contingency time to get to the station is running out, then I hear my wife “I can’t watch the news is there something wrong?”

“Yes, there bloody-well is the WiFi’s not working…” I yelled maybe a bit more angrily than I should.

I race downstairs and look at the router and the lights — as if my angry stares will make the router behave — I re-enter the password

Unable to the join network

“Oh for f$c&s sake” — so my wife is now getting cross with me; I’m getting apoplectic with the router.

So I do the tech support 101 — switch off and reset.

Meanwhile, the time to train is getting critical — I might just make it…

Router very, very slowly comes back to life…I re-enter the password and way hey connection..yippeee!!!!

I restart the podcast download, grab my rucksack and head off to the car — might just make it if the lights and traffic go my way.

Drive out of the drive…oh shit forgot my wallet in the rush, drive back in grab my wallet slam the door shut back in the car of to the station.

Now I’m very stressed and angry, everyone is annoying me on the road.

I park and get to the station — and yes someone is getting a ticket for parking but boy are they slow, I tap my feet and huff and puff behind them — clearly that doesn’t make them go faster.

I go to the train ticket machine, yep you guessed it, a queue of the slowest people who don’t seem to know how to press the buttons on the machine.

I get to the machine as the train pulls in, my ticket comes out of the machine as the train pulls out — oh typical this is now going to be a shit day!

And it was.

My in the moment reaction set off a chain of self-fulfilling, high stress, negative outcomes disproportionate to the original issue.

  • I was late for work
  • I was in a foul mood for the whole day
  • My interactions with people at work were rubbish
  • My wife saved up her rebuke for the evening, a bad day turned into bad evening.
  • My door slam caused the plaster to crack behind the door. Part of my weekend has just been used up.

One small moment so much grief.

So what did I learn?

  1. My default reactive responses can lead to unintended consequences, especially in a stressful situation — I became more stupid with each action; I was on autopilot and my executive brain was being overridden by my robot brain.
  2. My default reactive responses tend to be automatic, over simplistic and not likely to give a good outcome — router not working > fix router now; rather than router not working — Is fixing that that really the most important thing I need to do right now ? ; I did not create any space between the trigger and the reaction to chose the best response. Poor situational awareness on my part.
  3. As I became the victim in this drama at the front of my mind were all the negative perceptions of what was happening; all other drivers are stupid, all people buying tickets are slow and stupid, this will be a bad day — so my attitude was one of negativity and I saw negativity all around. Result a bad day — guaranteed!
  4. My bad day was not just my bad day, it impacted other people; my wife & work colleagues.

One small moment.

So whilst we are lucky that we have our robot brain ? who can guide us through much of our day to day without too many issues. There are times when, in the moment, you need to be mindful and call on the executive brain to just check in and make sure that you make the right call.

And after all that I did not listen to the podcasts I downloaded as I already had a backlog on the phone — another epic fail!

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