If you can master the ability to stay calm under pressure, you can excel in a lot of situations. Keeping your cool is vital at work, raising kids, driving, and especially in emergencies. It’s like a super skill. My father is exceptionally good at staying calm under pressure. I learned this one evening during a family dinnner.
Even at 7:30pm the night is hot. That’s what happens when you go barbecuing somewhere in the South Pacific in the middle of summer. You can almost taste the grilled chicken from the remnant fumes simmering off the grill. Dinner is served!
The family gathers around the picnic table. We take a deep breath and begin to eat. In just the first bite, my father freezes. He tries to swallow and lets out a little gag.
We ask him what’s wrong, and he shakes his head not knowing. One of us gives him a glass of water, and still, no change. My father raises up his hand, excuses himself, and says that he has to go to the emergency room. What?!
Staying Calm Under Pressure
When I first heard those words, I scrunched up my face in doubt and confusion. Was he serious? Is it really that bad I think to myself? It’s not like he was convulsing or anything. “Shall I drive Dad?” I ask.
“Nahh,” he responds and tells me to enjoy my meal. Dad lumbers to the car and drives his usual slow self away, careful not to run any stop signs. If he was in pain or scared it was not obvious. But for him to think he needed to go to the hospital, he sure was calm under pressure.
Five hours later at about 12:30am I hear a car pull up to the driveway with a loud car door thud seconds later. The brakes, oh how those brakes squeak, reminded us to replace them. I rush downstairs and ask Dad if everything is OK. He pulls out a little plastic vile, starts to jiggle it back and forth, and reveals a prideful grin.
“What’s that Dad?” I ask incredulously.
“This son, is a site to see!” as he opens up the vile and pulls out a piece of gauze. “Come look closer.” As I inched my way closer to the vile I noticed something long and grey. “This son is a once inch steel bristle from the steel brush we used to clean the grill! It was lodged in my throat!”
“Holy sh*t Dad! You weren’t kidding when you said you needed to go to the ER.”
“Nope.” My dad then proceeded to carefully lay the metal bristle back on the cotton gauze, and back into the vile. Like saving a bullet from a bullet wound, Dad will always save this thorn.
Many of us really thought he was faking his injury because of his demeanor. It was almost surreal how calmly he excused himself from the picnic table.
If you had an inch long metal bristle piercing the front side of your throat, and couldn’t swallow, what would you do? Would you be able to stay calm under the pressure of the situation? Or would you be screaming your head off and freaking out? I’ve had contact lenses disappear into the back or the bottom of my eye sockets before. That instantly puts me in a frenzy.
Dad would be the perfect candidate to shoot a real life Animal Planet commercial on what TO DO when a grizzly bear attacks. Without witnessing countless examples of his Zen-like responses, I’d be less balanced. My face would probably contort more when people are late. And I’d probably panic more at things outside of my control. For this, I’m thankful. My dad’s ability to stay calm under pressure is inspirational.
Of all things, independence is what I’ve learned most from my father. He gave me the leeway to do whatever I wanted in life. All the while he also exposed me to a myriad of his interests, so that perhaps some would rub off on me one day. He never forced me to choose, but instead gave me the freedom to make the right choices.
My dad showed me not to count on handouts and to believe in myself. When he drove himself to the emergency room and waved us off, I was reminded of independence once again.
Thanks Dad and Happy Father’s Day!
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Readers, what are some of the things your father have taught you in a direct or indirect way?
Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”
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