While presenting a program, "Succeeding in Tuff Times," for a local chamber of commerce today I was struck by how many times people said, "Folks today just aren't acting right."
The point that was consistently made was that a lot of people who had always acted in a reasonable, pay-ontime, mature way, weren't doing that now. When the group delved deeper, and with a little guidance and prodding, they started to understand that the recent financial stresses have pushed many people to act in ways that might be uncharacteristically unbusinesslike (I think that's a phrase...if it isn't it should be).
And, considering the short memories many of us have, we will probably be able to go to the crazy-acting people when things settle down and remind them of their behavior and they'll call on Sonny and Cher, "It Ain't Me, Babe!"
Stress often makes people do crazy things. That's why there's so much truth in the thought that it's easy to act right during good times, but people really show who they are when they are under pressure. So, if that is true, then the real statement, especially in tuff times, would be, "It IS Me, Babe!"
The other side is the opportunity side. There's the old cliche' that a diamond is just coal under pressure. Jimmy Buffett sings, "Cliche's say what they mean and mean what they say," so, there you go. Pressure provides an opportunity to be better, greater, more gracious.
A good friend told me not long ago that she envied me because, "You live a low-stress life," she said. Then she added, "But, when you get really stressed you don't do well." I would not have said that that was true until I started looking back on my reactions to some stressful situations. I could have done better. I've taken that comment to heart. I'm trying to do better about dealing with stress by understanding that it will always be there in one way or the other, and that there are consequences to my actions and comments while under stress.
At the same time, I believe that I did the best I could with what I had, what I knew, and what I felt at the time.
The object of the game, though, is to learn, not make the same mistake again, and move on down the path. The coach of the perrenial National Champion UNC Women's Soccer Team, Anson Dorrance, talks about living an "ever-ascending" life. Learning from your mistakes and moving on is the only way to do that.
The alternative is not very appealing, and, as we Southerners say, "It ain't pretty."