Learn from “Close Calls”

plane_CloseCallHave you ever had a close call and breathed a sigh of relief? These happen to all of us in many different situations. BUT, have you ever thought about paying closer attention to these events and perhaps considering that they’re sending a subtle (or even blunt) message that we can use to our advantage?   As I’ve aged, I’ve become more aware of how ‘close calls’ are usually good signs and reminders for us to ‘wake up’ and examine our behavior. Thinking about our behavior more often is a good rule and it makes us “Smarter”. Here’s how it applies to close calls…

Close calls happen a lot and there are so many examples of this. Here are just a few common ones:

  1. Close calls often happen in the car (here are a few examples):
    1. Driving well over the speed limit and passing a police officer whom, for whatever reason, doesn’t pull you over.
    2. Texting or playing with your phone and almost rear-ending the car in front of you because you didn’t see traffic stop soon enough.
    3. Driving home after having a few drinks and seeing a group of police cars in what seems to be a DUI roadblock.
  1. Close Calls happens in general social interaction:
    1. Showing off (trying to impress others) and having some sort of close call. In this situation, you’re pushing yourself or doing something you wouldn’t normally do in order to attract some attention.
    2. Telling a fib and getting away with it (and having a horrible feeling you wouldn’t)
    3. Being disloyal to your boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse (actually doing something or thinking about it and almost getting caught)
  1. Close Calls happens when we generally ‘overdo’ it:
    1. Barely averting an injury at the gym, when playing sports or generally overdoing it
    2. Riding a bike aggressively without a helmet and dodging close calls in traffic

We have all been in at least a few of the above scenarios and I bet that many of you could share dozens of other scenarios where you have experienced close calls and thought about it.

The “Smarter Sooner” strategy here is simply to be aware of situations like these and think about what message these situations are sending (usually loudly and clearly). The Smarter person will contemplate this and consider modifying his behavior accordingly.

And note that oblivious people who don’t pay attention to messages or ‘wake up calls’ from events in their lives will most likely suffer more consequences than their ‘smarter’ peers.

Here are some simple examples with outcomes you’d expect:

The Smarter Sooner Method in the Car (pretty simple):

After nearly getting into an accident while ‘texting and driving’ a Smarter person, clearly aware of the message being sent and thinking about what could have happened, will put his phone down and completely stop or minimize any use of the phone while driving. He will be grateful that he didn’t actually have an accident, will head the warning (i.e. message / signal) and change his behavior.

The Smarter Sooner Method on Dating (pretty simple):

After flirting with another girl and ‘almost’ being caught by his girlfriend, the Smarter Sooner guy would think about what is most important to him, how he truly feels about his girlfriend and if flirting with others is something worthwhile. He’d consider if it’s worth losing his girlfriend or jeopardizing the relationship by continuing this behavior and should be grateful that nothing happened YET. The point is that he is aware of the repercussions of his behaviors and he’s listening to the message being sent. He will then thoughtfully make a decision of how to proceed. He might realize that his girlfriend is more important than simply flirting with others and that he should be more respectful and aware of how hurtful and damaging his behavior might be to his girlfriend (and to his relationship in general). Or, he the scenario might help him be honest with himself and realize that he’s actually not happy with his girlfriend. If that’s the case, the ‘Smarter’ person should then have an honest conversation with his current girlfriend (to either work things out of consider ending the relationship). In both cases, he’s being thoughtful and conscientious (paying attention to messages being sent) and will be better off because of it.

The Unaware, Reckless Method (dangerous):

The unaware, unconscious person will not care that he nearly collided with the car in front of him and, obviously, will continue texting and driving, despite this or any other close calls. He’ll obviously increase the chances of having an accident which will have much more severe repercussions that he’ll regret. He’s forcing himself to be subjected to a ‘wake up call’ that will be much more costly (an accident, hurting himself or others, etc.). BAD DECISION.

That same type of person will also continue to flirt with other girls unaware or uncaring of how disrespectful and hurtful it might be to his girlfriend. His girlfriend will likely find out and end the relationship. He’ll likely then feel badly about his behavior having hurt his girlfriend, destroying something he perhaps really wanted and the bad reputation that will likely follow. He’ll be much worse off. BAD DECISION.

Life is all about learning… Pay attention to Close Calls because they provide serious learning and make us Smarter.

What close calls have you experienced? And what did you do differently? Any regrets or success stories?

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