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  • Writer's picturePaul Neville

Humerous Example of Reacting rather than Responding

I posted this story on facebook about 6 weeks ago. I thought I would add it here also. It doesn't exactly fit the theme of this blog. But it does reflect on the variety of my NorthStar experience. I will add a few learning points that weren't in my original post below: Why was I yelling, 'What are you doing?' Obviously I knew what he was doing. And why did I run out and leave my phone - my best tool for addressing the situation - on the table in the office. The answer? Panic & anger. In the words of John O'Sullivan from Every Moment Matters, I reacted rather than responded. I know this is something I have done many times in coaching situation and other emotion-laden situations in life. O'Sullian p. 16, " Character is all about self-awareness and being cognizant of how we tend to react so that in certain situations, we can take a deep breath and respond appropriately." In the story below my temper interfered with rational thinking. The more rational and effective response to the situation required no more time than the one I gave. What it required was more self-awareness allowing for quick rational thought as opposed to a largely ineffective emotional reaction. In this story the outcome is humerous. In coaching situations it can be ineffective and even lead me to say things to kids I later regret. Lots of work to do around this.

A Thief? Yes. A Liar? Maybe Not.

Friday I took my mower out to cut the soccer field, as I do twice per week. I had a meeting that afternoon at the NorthStar office. I stopped briefly at home but didn't have time to unload the mower or disconnect the trailer. I drove down to the NorthStar office with mower in tow. After my meeting I was taking a quick moment on my computer inside when suddenly I hear my mower start up. I look out the window to see a dude sitting on it. I run out and start yelling "What are you doing?" He jumps up, climbs off the mower then runs around the right side and grabs the key out of it. Unbelievable. I have stopped him from stealing my mower but if he takes my key I have a problem. I chase him. He runs and looks back and says, "I bet you can't catch me." We cross 8th Avenue and I am running after him south on 7th Street and I yell, "Give me my key!" He turns around and yells back, "This ain't yo key!"

Finally I stop. I think probably it is true that I won't catch him. My mower is still back there. The office door is open and I left my phone inside. I go back to get my phone and call the police.

The dispatcher starts laughing. "I'm sorry," she says. "I am not laughing at you but, how fast does the mower go?" "I don't know. About 6mph maybe?" Where was he going to go with it?" But then she assures me she will send someone out.

I then start thinking about the spare key which exists but which I have never taken any particular care to place anywhere. A year after purchase it's still in the plastic wrapping with the owner's manual. Somewhere. I call my wife and ask her to look on my desk at home. Then I start looking in the back of my car for the package. I know it used to be lying around the old van (which died in May and I bought this Santa Fe specifically to pull the trailer and the mower). I think I stuck that owners manual in here somewhere. Then a flash of memory (I am not THAT old - I still get those). I remember when I was at the house I walked around the trailer and took the key out of the mower and put it in its assigned resting place in the car before I went inside. Sure enough, it's there.

Relief and amusement followed by annoyance. Dude was telling the truth. That wasn't my key. I have a key and can start the mower and I am not going to be stuck here trying to locate the spare. Wait a minute. Any old riding mower key will start my mower?

Then the police arrive.

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