Out Of Our Control

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This week has been a difficult one for many along the eastern part of the United States, as well as in the Caribbean, due to Hurricane Matthew.  As I write this, Hurricane Matthew has passed through Haiti and Cuba, and is now pounding the Bahamas, resulting in deaths and devastation.  Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are preparing for their visits from Matthew.  My husband and I are on a plane flying from Ft. Lauderdale to Raleigh, two days earlier than we had planned to, due to the meeting we were in Ft. Lauderdale for being cancelled due to the impending dangerous weather.  Our oldest daughter and her family have left their home in coastal Georgia to travel to Jefferson, Ga. to get away from the storm.  It is unknown exactly where the hurricane will travel after it leaves Florida, but many are not taking any chances.  The Governor of South Carolina has already instituted a mandatory evacuation for many areas of South Carolina.  Mike and I feel safe to go home to Raleigh, knowing we have a few days in which to leave again if Matthew comes closer to us than now expected.  While we are experiencing a travel disruption, the disruption many are experiencing is much worse. 

There is no comparison to what Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, has (again) experienced.  Nothing can compare to the loss of life.  Although property damage can be disastrous to an area as poor as Haiti, with time and assistance, Haiti can recover from that.  There is no recovery from losing loved ones. The other examples of disruption I will mention are at an entirely different level.  They are, however, difficult if you are the one experiencing them. 

Our two beach properties are rented this week to family of a wedding party scheduled for this Saturday on Oak Island, NC.  The two large houses that were to host the bride and groom and where the wedding was to be held in three days have just today cancelled the rentals, requiring that they find other accommodations, which was almost impossible to do. Those who have responsibility for such decisions in the area are trying to decide if an evacuation is required, and when it will go into effect.  The wedding has now been rescheduled to be held two days earlier than planned, hoping to avoid any mandatory evacuations or any weather problems from Hurricane Matthew.  What a disruption to months of planning! 

Since October is a popular month for weddings in the south, I am sure that there were many other weddings scheduled in the resort areas of South Carolina that have now been cancelled due to the mandatory evacuation in that state.  I am reminded of a favorite saying of a good friend of mine; “You can’t control the weather!”  While we all know this is true, at times like this, it is a pill that is difficult to swallow.  Especially since there is such an unknown at this point.  It is quite possible that in the next 24 hours Hurricane Matthew will change course and all of these preparations will be found unnecessary. Some people making the decisions are not waiting any or much longer to determine the best course of action to protect property and possibly people’s lives as well.

Weddings are not the only disruptions due to this weather event.  Many businesses will be directly adversely impacted due to closures.  Even if businesses remain open during this time, shopping for non essentials is not how most people will spend their time.  On the other hand, for those in the grocery business, this is a very busy and financially lucrative time, especially for those selling bread milk, water, and generators!

There are lessons to be found in any situation.  What are some of the lessons staring us in the face in this situation?

First, and perhaps most importantly, as much as we like to think we can control our circumstances, there are some things outside of our control, and weather is certainly one of them.  If we plan a wedding for any time from June 1-November 1 in certain parts of the word, namely the Caribbean and the Southeastern U.S, it can be disrupted by a hurricane, especially if it is a beach wedding.  And, most weddings are held in those exact months!  It is possible that the best month in which to marry is April, which is (coincidently) the month of Mike and my wedding in 1984. I can assure you that hurricanes were not even in our mind when we decided to marry in April!  However, hurricanes aside, there are other disruptions that can be just as problematic to weddings as hurricanes. The lesson is, plan well, then let it go.  We can’t control the weather.  We can have contingency plans, and should.  But some things remain outside of our control, and one of them is the actions of others.

We can’t control the decisions others have the authority to make.  Even if it is found that S. C. Governor Haley’s mandatory evacuation was premature, it was her decision to make. The same is true for the owners of the Oak Island rental houses who cancelled the rentals for the wedding party scheduled there.  Even if their decisions directly and negatively impact us and many others, and even if their decisions prove to be bad ones, if those decisions are within their authority to make, they are in control, and we are not.

Hurricanes and weddings aside, what situations are outside of your control, and what are the lessons found here that can help you deal better with those? 

While you are pondering, say a prayer for those mentioned here.                 

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About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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