(photo: moochiepie13)

Use the TIC TOC system of management to avoid as many mishaps and misunderstandings as possible. Always anticipate the many possibilities of what people might do, so that you can either avoid them or have a strategy in place to deal with them.

You may have heard that we are not victims of our circumstances, and that outside events do not control us. I agree with this to a certain extent.

We are certainly in control of our own behavior, but I am also very realistic about our perceived reality. After spending some time on this planet, I am clear on the value we are trained to place on our external world and how it directly affects our internal world.

And this experience and research tells me that our circumstances and situations in life, most certainly do have the ability to help us lose control (even for an instant), regardless of our knowledge that we are the master of our own thoughts.

In the realm of self-achievement and success consciousness, most of these principles are easy to share. But in the world of realistic life issues, it isn’t always easy to just say, “Every day above ground is a great day,” especially when others manage to get a good grasp on your life regardless of your views.

Eight more lives for a milkshake

There I was, standing on a three-by-five inch piece of granite rock more than a few broken bones up and only seconds from watching my life pass before my eyes. I would have said I was holding on for dear life, but there wasn’t anything to hold on to. I had brought up with me the smallest of cams (a device used to insert into cracks to create an instant anchor), but not a crack was to be found. It was certainly one of the most fear-enriched moments of my life. Not because I was 20 stories high on the side of a rock mountain, standing on one leg with no protection, but because the person I was trying to save was above me in almost the same situation. No good place to stand and it was only a matter of time before our leg muscles would start to cramp and cause us to make some serious lethal mistakes.

I was taking a group of friends out for a day of climbing in California. We were on our second pitch and working on another climb. One of the climbers who was new to the sport decided to break off from the pack and do a little scrambling on his own. He was out of sight and we didn’t hear from him until he was calling for help. Like a cat in a tree, he had managed to climb into a tough spot on the face of the mountain. First-time climbers can often have an overconfident approach to climbing, and this person certainly didn’t have any fear getting up. But soon he realized what he had done, and that it was all downhill from there. And so the “Cat” (climber in distress) will cry for help. So we all migrated over to a location under our person in distress. I immediately began to contemplate a plan.

My first thought was, “No big deal. I will climb up and place anchors in the cracks as I go and simply bring him a rope to clip into. If he falls, the cams I have placed along the way will catch him.” The problem was, there didn’t appear to be anywhere to place protection near him. A yelled discussion back and forth confirmed this. That meant that if we fell from the location that he was standing on, we would hit rock before we would be caught by the highest anchor I could place. The last piece just wouldn’t be close enough to us to take up the extra slack in the rope.

So my solution was to climb above the last piece of protection, get the climber roped in and then have him climb and try to get close to that anchor before falling. That was the risk we were facing. I didn’t think we would fail, but then again you might easily be able to walk across a two-by-four inch piece of wood on the ground. If I stick that same piece of wood up 200 feet, you will have to consider the consequences of failure. Not to mention having to trust a few cams placed into a crack on the side of a mountain to prevent a long fall.

That was the challenge at hand. So I tied a rope to the back of my harness and started to free climb up to where our “cat” was. As I climbed, I couldn’t believe he did this as a first time climber on his own. People without previous falling experience can really go the distance. I put in as many cams as I could get in what tiny crack was available under a boulder before climbing around it and over. It was a bit frightening, and although I was no stranger to climbing without a rope, this was beyond my comfort level for climbing unprotected, and I was not looking forward to having to down climb around that boulder. I maintained a fairly calm and positive attitude throughout the whole experience. I hoped I would be able to get in some kind of protection once I reached the climber. This was not the case.

I eventually ended up in a position about five feet under the climber standing on the ball of one foot on this small space while the other rested against the rock. The good news was that it was angled enough that I didn’t have to hold. But it wasn’t a feeling of security because one slip and I would fall back and finally live out the common nightmare of falling. But in a dream, you get to wake up.

Then the climber above me decided to try to shift and get a little higher to see if there was a crack or something to hold onto. This is the point where I had submitted all of my control over to my external circumstance (although this really happened the minute I took responsibility to get the cat out of the tree). I am looking up at the climber when I notice he loses his footing and begins to slide down in my direction. I am practically standing on one leg and there isn’t anything for me to brace against him falling into my chest. Gravity would pull us both off the rock and hit solid rock before the rope could catch us, and he wasn’t even tied in.

I don’t know what stopped him, but I am happy for it and still toss out appreciation here and there for whatever luck we had on our side that day. I could almost feel us about to go into the air and off the granite mountain when he stopped and my heart was given permission to beat again. It was clear that he shouldn’t be doing any more movement than he had to. But we still had a problem. I had to get him roped in then switch places so he could begin a climb down. We did this and I am sure it goes without saying that we did this very slowly and with more focused attention than I had all year. Although the climb down was certainly harder and scarier, it was helpful to know that the closer we got to that last anchor the safer we would be. Suffice it to say, he made it down, and I followed.

This was one of those days where you thank the Universe to be alive. A time where you feel like you might have been given an extra chance, an experience that helped to open our eyes and as Brendon Burchard puts it in his book Life’s Golden Ticket, a chance to magically start your life anew.

We gathered our wits and decided that was enough action for the day. We drove into town and stopped at a local bar and grill for dinner. The climber whose life I had just saved and who had put my life in danger bought me a milkshake. I cannot put it all into words to this day, but I can say this:

Your life (and mine) is worth more than a milkshake

Sometimes people do very stupid things that force us to deal with their mistakes as if they were our own mistakes. If someone accidentally sets your house on fire, you have to act. Now these are certainly drastic examples of what happens on a daily basis, and if you avoid people who don’t seem to pay attention, you can often keep yourself out of harm’s way. But the reality is, you will always have responsibilities in life and some of these people might be family or dependents.

You also might have to deal with external mishaps from co-workers. And, if you are a manager, you will know that your team’s mistakes are your mistakes. These are all issues which we are presented with; other people’s problems that get dropped in our lap regardless of our desire to take on the task. When this happens, it will push your buttons, twist your thumb, and fire up your ears.

I usually deal fairly well with these types of situations, but in reflection, I started to realize that some people are prone to problems and that it is best to pay attention and avoid problem-magnets at all costs. You know the type. They always seem to keep you in the hot seat. It is almost as if they have a Black Belt in causing you to have to deal with their problems.

I run into this situation on a regular basis, and the best solution I have is my TIC TOC strategy for management which I teach and present to people BEFORE I work with them. I will talk a little more about TIC TOC in the CMT book (Book 5 of Winjitsu). But here is a quick summary of how to get your point across to others if you are in a team situation, especially if you are a leader.

Train – prepare people in advance for the challenges to come

Intuition – make sure people are aware of what MIGHT happen

Creativity – imagine a variety of situations and solutions

Timing – agree on a schedule and stick to it and have a “Plan B”

Organization – ensure that you have the proper gear for the job

Completion – focus on finishing

Thinking ahead and using your intuition is one of the best ways to solve these issues and help avoid some of the following mistakes I have endured in the outdoors. In other words, expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Here are just a few examples:

A student packs a delicious-smelling sandwich and tosses the wrapper down a slope we can’t get to (to retrieve it) in bear country.

I have had students go camping and forget to bring a sleeping bag or tent. When you are four hours up a trail in the Sierras and you can see stars, that is NOT the time to tell people you don’t have a place to sleep.

How about a group mistake where the students assumed that bears couldn’t climb trees? I told them to put their gear out of reach at night, but forgot to include that said gear should be on a branch away from the trunk of the tree. They woke up to a pack of bears running off with all their gear.

Never underestimate mistakes people can make

Students have crashed three of my cars and totaled two. Students have set my buildings on fire. They have lost priceless items, and made many costly mistakes which with a little intuition could have been avoided. Trying to figure out how to keep these situations from happening is tough.

I have had people join my obvious outdoor adventure program only to say (once we were knee-deep in nature) that they only enjoyed looking at pictures of nature, but didn’t want to be IN it. I love the laughs the students offered after hearing these kinds of remarks, but it still makes me stop and ask, “What were you thinking?” You are probably nodding and saying, “They weren’t thinking at all.”

But in truth we think in pictures and people have very different pictures of what is going on. Words mean different things to different people, and their visualizations are based on their life experiences, education, upbringing, and expectations.

My experience has taught me that people have their own life-movie playing. One could be experiencing a comedy while another in the exact same experience is dealing with a drama; one might be enjoying an action-packed series of events, and another a horror film filled with danger at every turn. You cannot control or even intuit what their internal movie is “now showing.”

Think, Plan, Repeat

So what can you do? Think ahead and ensure that everyone else is seeing the same picture you are while going over as much TIC TOC as possible. This might seem easy enough, but again the reality is that people will not always listen to you. For some reason when a leader is in place, adults often turn into 16-year-olds feeling the need to fight the authority figure, or being “know-it-alls.”

One last example from my book of tales is sticking to the theme of climbing in the great outdoors. I was asked to go climbing with a group which a new friend of mine was leading, and at the last minute I was asked to drive this group of strangers up to the mountains where we would do the climb. (I forgot to just say, “NO!”) We had to separate the groups when the leader decided she did not want to do the climb after all and would wait at the base for me and another climber to finish.

Okay, fair enough, see you at the bottom,” I said. So we continued up the route and finished when the sun was setting. When we came down, our packs were gone and no one was waiting for us. We had to look up and down the base before we realized that the leader must have taken our packs.

The packs had our flashlights, our shoes, water, food, and my car keys. So we were left in the middle of the forest trying to find our way back to the car with no light and in our climbing shoes. If you have ever worn climbing shoes, you will know that one of the joys of finishing a climb is taking them off.

Anticipate the self-interest of others

After our awesome (yes, I am being sarcastic) night hike we finally found the parking lot. We discovered that the group spurred on by the leader had become so scared because it was dark (only a few hours after sundown) that they took my seat covers, items in my glove box, a few t-shirts, and burned them to have what they called a “fire for survival.” Their excuse was an over-exaggerated fear for their lives. But I guess they thought we would be fine left in the woods without any gear for ourselves.

You can imagine how upset I was at this person who stole my property, left us for dead, and destroyed my belongings in only a matter of hours. A million thoughts ran through my head, many of them illegal, but all I could really do was get these people home and out of my life. I never would have guessed that this was how the night would end. Even when a group knows that some other course of action could be taken, they might still follow the course of a very misguided leader. You sometimes have to trust people, but the key is still to plan for the worst and expect the best.

Sometimes people will do very irrational things and you will have to pay the price. And it won’t always be OTHER people. It will often be YOU making the mistake. But the point is, if you live in this world, it will likely take control of you every now and again.

I mentioned you could use TIC TOC to avoid these situations, but it must be noted that you won’t always be able to prepare people in advance, as many won’t listen. You see the headlines all the time, screaming about lost hikers, trapped climbers, skiers gone off the trail (where there were warning signs everywhere), etc. People invariably think they’re going to be the exception to the rule. They can do what no one else has been able to do. They can go where no man has gone before. Sometimes those people have been my students.

My point in this observation is that we try not to ignore the facts. From time to time we will be presented with a situation we didn’t ask for and yet must do something about. When a person does something extremely rude or thoughtless, I am not happy about it, and I don’t find myself pretending to be. I don’t over exaggerate my response nor do I go out of my way to add insult to injury. But if you turn around and offer happy faces in a situation that should not condone a specific negative behavior, you will create a monster. So suck it up, say your piece, and move on. When you look back on the experience, do so with a smile, a good story, and a way to learn. I have found that these experiences have served a positive purpose and helped me to avoid many others.

Winjitsu Work Out

Think about a time when you have been forced to deal with someone else’s mistake. How did you handle it? How could you have handled it differently? What did you learn from the event and the aftermath?

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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