We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations and comments as a result of the last post about Jack and his football game in the park. A few people didn’t like the direction they thought I was heading but the overwhelming majority agreed with the point I was trying to make. Almost everyone reflected back on a time in their own childhood when they had to rely on themselves to get out of a tight spot. That was my very point: what if you look in the personal resource cupboard and it’s empty?
This dilemma was made clear to us a while back as we deal daily with college students and together, found ourselves struggling through a cold and prolonged winter season. Typically in Colorado, once it snows you find ways to enjoy it, and then wait a day or two until it is sunny and melted. This year, however, reminds me of my ten winters in Chicago when the snow turns black and stays with you until April. Some of our students from the South struggle with the realities of winter more than the natives. A few weeks back, when one particular student found that his car did not want to run in -11 degree temperature, he decided to shut it down for the day. Only problem was, the rest of the city and University continued to function, almost normally, just slightly delayed. Once that first decision was made to shut it down, a number of other decisions occurred de facto. Tutoring sessions failed to occur, assignments were delayed, appointments with coaches and trainers went unattended and classes were missed. All in all, a huge waste of a day.
The following morning when the student was forced to face the decision which triggered so many others, he responded that his car would not start and assumed that all affected would simply shake their heads and immediately understand. Not the case! His life just became infinitely more complicated. Unlike Jack, this student either found nothing in his cupboard or chose not to use other resources at his disposal. Why? I don’t know. He struggled to convince others with his explanation but it did not stand up as scores of his fellow students had figured out how to navigate through a particularly nasty day. Did he stumble on the first obstacle that appeared in his path? Was he a little short on the resiliency trait? Had others always problem-solved for him? Was it difficult for him to identify alternative options that would let him still get from point A to point B? Is he perhaps a grown-up Jack who wasn’t given the opportunity to figure out how to get his football back?