When You’re Tossed In The Deep End

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I’m an Archaeologist, and I love my job! I get to travel, see new things, and get paid to be outside looking for artifacts. Often in some pretty remote locations as well, which is quite exciting! However, there are times when my profession isn’t so glamorous. There are tedious reports to write, countless artifacts to go through, and a lot of unpredictability. The last point about unpredictability centers around the story that I want to share in this post and the lessons that follow.

It was a Friday morning, and my boss asked me to come see him in his office. He told me that he was contacted by one of our clients who said that they needed some archeological investigations done prior to construction that they wanted to do as part of a project. Also, it was time-sensitive and they asked if we could start on Monday. My boss told me that he wanted me to handle this assignment. Not to just simply work on the project, but to lead it.

After hearing him say that, I felt somewhat overwhelmed. This particular client was very far away in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which is well over a 12-hour drive. I also have to lead this project. Now I’ve lead a couple of other projects before, but it was still new to me. Also the last couple of times that I did lead projects, I knew well in advance with ample time to prepare. Though with it being a Friday morning, and the project starting on Monday, I now had about a week’s worth of preparations that I needed to get done in a single day!

After talking with my boss I returned to my desk, wrote out a to-do list, and got to work. I started filling out the right paperwork, contacting the right people, and gathering all of the right equipment. Things felt pretty intense, but I felt good about how I was doing and how I felt. I knew I had to keep a level head. After all, I had a job to do and I was going to see it through. My boss, and the other archaeologist that I was to lead deserved that from me, so I worked hard and finished up my preparations.

Before dawn on Monday morning, I hopped in the truck with my colleague and we hit the road. Since North Carolina’s Outer Banks was a 12-hour drive away, needless to say, this was going to be a long day. Thank goodness for things like podcasts and audiobooks though. During the drive my colleague and I were able to finish the entire audiobook for Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. And shortly after dusk, we arrived at our destination.

The next morning we met with our point of contact at the location where we were going to be working. Shortly into our meeting, I learned that our time there wasn’t going to be quite as straight forward as I’d thought. Some things had come up, and now we had to do some work in other areas as well. Areas that I hadn’t planned for prior to the trip. So now we had to do the initial project that I planned for, as well as this new one accompanied by its own set of tasks. Both of which were on opposite ends of the Outer Banks, and all within the time that I had allotted to do just the initial planned project. Needless to say, I was being tossed in the deep end on this one!

Now to make a long story short, here’s how it ended. Not only did my colleague and I successfully complete our initial project, but we also successfully completed the new one as well. Also, both were done a day earlier than the allotted time! So despite being thrown in the deep end, I was able to keep my head above water, so to speak. There were six strategies that I used in order to do so and I want to share these with you now. I believe that these strategies will be beneficial to you as well should you ever find yourself in the deep end in your own life.

1. Take a Deep Breath

Now you’ve probably heard this a few times already and it may seem silly by now, but I’ve found that it really does work. For starters, taking a deep breath sends precious oxygen to your brain to get it working effectively. It also allows you to simply calm down and take a better look at the situation you’re in and think about your next move. There has never been a time in my life where getting upset and complaining about a situation actually did anything to make it better, not once. If you’re frustrated and start complaining about the situation, you make yourself more vulnerable to making mistakes and making the situation worse. There’s no doubt that you’ve experienced this.

Instead of complaining or getting frustrated, stop for a second to take a deep breath and look at the situation. You’ll be able to keep a more level head, make better decisions, and handle the problem effectively. Don’t let difficult situations in your life take control of you, take a deep breath and take control of them.

2. Weigh the Scale

Now I’ve mentioned this before in a previous episode, so I won’t get into it too in-depth this time around. But basically another good way to level out your mind when faced with a tough situation is to weigh the current situation with another challenge that you’ve faced in the past. When you do this, chances are you’ll find that you’ve faced far worse before. This will remind you that since you’ve already dealt with that, then you know you have what it takes to deal with the current situation that you face.

3. Kick Ass

There’s a saying that I have, and it’s; “When the going gets tough, the tough kicks ass.” Which I’m sure I picked up during my Marine Corps days! This piggybacks off of my previous points. Once you have taken a deep breath and chosen your next move… attack! Be relentless and hit the problem with everything you got. On that Friday when I found out that I had to do that project and I was preparing and planning for it, I’m sure I looked kind of crazy since I was all over the place and moving fast. In reality, though, I was in total control.

I moved quickly and intentionally and did what needed to be done. I was also decisive with my decision-making. There was no time for me to ponder every decision that I made. I just knew that I had decisions to make. If it turned out to be the wrong ones, then I would course correct. I also remember something that one of my colleagues said to me shortly after I started my job, he said; “We ain’t saving babies.” Simply put, if I made an incorrect decision it’s not the end of the world. So whenever you’re faced with a difficult situation, kick its ass by making prompt decisions and get things done!

4. Seek Help

Even though I was in attack mode on that Friday and was making sound decisions, some of those decisions included asking other people for help. Asking for help was something that I struggled with for a long time. I’ve always been pretty self-reliant and I’ve solved many problems in the past on my own. To some degree, I was worried that asking for help would make others view me as being weak.

However, the reality is, I don’t know everything, and neither do you. You’re not always going to know the right answer, but you can be humble enough to ask someone who does. It doesn’t make you weak, and those you ask won’t think that of you either. Instead, they’ll likely have more respect for you because you were willing to ask, to learn, and to make sure that you are doing things correctly and looking to solve the problem. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

5. Seek Light in the Darkness

This is a fancy way of saying, find good things in bad situations. Yes, getting ready for and doing this project was stressful. However, I also got to work right on the coast just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. It was beautiful and during my break, I could walk to the beach and just about have it all to myself! So see what good things can come from tough situations you face. Maybe your boss also assigned you a difficult task at your job. Good, now you can show him or her what you’re capable of and learn some new things. Maybe your kids made a mess with their food and dropped a bunch of crumbs on the floor. Good, now you know that they’ve been fed and that their basic needs are met.

6. Train Hard

This is more of a preventative measure. Many times in previous episodes I’ve talked about the importance of physical fitness, so again I won’t go too deep into this. Simply put, if your body is strong and fueled properly, you’ll have more energy to tackle the problems that you face. Your brain will also be operating more effectively, which will help you with your mindset and decision-making. Find yourself a workout program that you’ll stick to and dial in on your nutrition. This will make you a force to be reckoned with whenever difficult situations come your way!

To Sum it Up

Problems and difficult situations are always going to come your way, it’s inevitable. You won’t always be in control of the situations that you face, but you have absolute control over how you react to them. I hope that the strategies that I discussed today will be beneficial to you should you ever find yourself being tossed in the deep end so that you’ll have what it takes to stay afloat!


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