The other day I was caught up in what seemed to be a never-ending stream of problems, you know the sort of day.
Nothing was going right, everyone and everything was conspiring against me. One problem after another, mounting, crushing, the world on my shoulders, leaving me pleading why was this happening to me?
In reality the world wasn’t going to come to an end, the sun had risen in the east, and in all likelihood it was going to set in the west, and a few deep breathes would probably have dispatched the garbage that was mostly going on inside my head to the trash…
But it did get me thinking why do we allow seemingly insignificant problems to morph into something that requires the Fantastic Four to resolve?
Human nature was my guess.
And then I recalled a quote by Frank MacAlyster, a member of the US Military’s elite Delta Force. Frank was involved in an operation to help free US hostages being held inside the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in the early 1980s.
The story is recounted in the book ‘Inside Delta Force’, by Eric Hany.
As the doomed rescue attempt unfolded Frank was sound asleep in a US C-130 Hercules aircraft that was parked on the ground inside Iran.
He awoke to intense flames licking all around him, the aircraft was on fire.
Frank thought the aircraft was airborne, but the intensity of the fire left him no choice, he jumped from the plane without a parachute and went into a skydivers arch.
Of course he fell for only a fraction of a second before hitting the ground.
Frank had assessed his options and jumped. It must have taken a lot of courage. Death was almost a certainty, but he was buying time at least.
I reflected on this and thought that even under intense pressure Frank was still thinking through his problems and wasn’t letting the situation clutter his thinking, and by this time there were any number of problems to deal with. Of course the first was to survive.
What could I learn from that?
How could Frank’s experience help me as I pursue my goal of high altitude climbing, and how might it help others to deal with their own ‘burning aircraft’?
When asked a few days later by his Superior what he was going to do once he was out of the plane without a parachute, Frank replied…
“One problem at a time Sarge, one problem at a time.”