It Never Pays to Be Reactive

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Weekends are all about barbecuing for us. From Friday at about 6 p.m. when I leave work all the way through Sunday evening’s dinner, weekends are all about barbeque. We’ve got this great summer kitchen and this wonderful General Electric barbeque that gives us the opportunity to make the barbeque extremely hot, fueled by natural gas. Steaks come out tremendous. Hot dogs are fantastic. You can do seafood with the best of them and so forth.

I happened to go out on a Sunday afternoon to preheat the grill. I preheated as is typical, lighting all three burners to their highest intensity before I intended on bringing them down so that I could put on some hamburgers and steaks.

I had them preheated for about 15 minutes so it was nice and hot at about 200 degrees.

I went out and opened the lid to the grill.

I looked over just in time to see this little three-inch lizard on top of the granite countertop panic beyond belief and proceed to leap to his left, right into an open blazing flame!

The good news is that his demise was very short indeed and, probably, painless.

But as I saw that scene unfolding in front of me, it occurred to me — I know, I’m weird! — that it never really pays to react.

This lizard, instinctively, jumped out of a sense of survival away from what he perceived to be a potential threat. But the truth of the matter is, of course, that I wasn’t a threat at all. In fact, I like lizards. They are not only fairly friendly and funny, but they also take care of insects for us. I wasn’t planning on hurting that cute little lizard at all.

He just didn’t know that.

Life skills are just about as old as the hills.

Anyone in combat, let alone anyone simply crossing the street, follows the same processes, whether they know it or not.

1. They assess the current circumstance.

2. They assess and value the weight of the impending threat, whether perceived or not.

3. They assess the respective alternatives, in response, and determine which one may be the most appropriate.

4. They wait until such time as some event triggers the need to respond immediately.

5. They pull the trigger.

That’s about it.

When you skip any one of those steps, you put yourself in substantial jeopardy for any number of obvious reasons.

If I don’t assess the circumstance I’m in accurately, I am probably going to see a need to respond when none exists. Or, if I inaccurately assess respective alternatives, I might very well be choosing an option that is worse than the circumstance I’m currently in. If I don’t wait until the last possible moment to pull the trigger, I would probably act prematurely and with each premature second, minute, day, week, or month, chances are far stronger that my response is going to be inappropriate. And, of course, if I pull the trigger when I shouldn’t have or fail to pull the trigger when I should, bad things happen!

My poor lizard didn’t follow that process despite the fact that he responded as nature had apparently wired him to.

My blessings to you, Mr. Lizard. Better luck next time.