Being Grounded

Are you still grounded?

That is how a friend of mine refers to the shelter-in-place order. And like a rebellious teen, she isn’t too happy about it. It’s safe to say, the majority of us are not feeling great about staying home at this point. Being grounded in this sense is seen as a punishment. Like most teens who have ever experienced a grounding, we may have felt that it was an overreaction and overuse of our parent’s authority. And surely that it was unnecessary. Most often, in those teenage years, we did not understand their reasoning. How often did you feel as though the punishment did not fit the crime? Sound familiar?

  • Google search results for the word “Grounded.”
    · 1. well balanced and sensible.
    “for someone so young, Chris is extremely grounded.”
    · 2. (of a pilot or an aircraft) prohibited or prevented from flying.
    “you don’t taunt a grounded flier, especially after he’s had a few beers.”

A Different Perspective

As the world is beginning to open back up, how many of us feel grounded? How often during the day do you feel well-balanced?

I know that I still ride an emotional rollercoaster throughout the day. Somedays are admittedly better than others. I can’t say that any of this has brought me to optimistic high points. I’m more aware of what I need to do to keep from falling into the pits. I now strive to be grounded (well balanced and sensible). Maintaining my center of gravity by doing what seems reasonable has become the goal.

Learn from Others

Early on, when North Carolina was “grounded,” I was reminded of “The Stockdale Paradox” from Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. The Stockdale Paradox was named by Jim Collins following his interview with Admiral Jim Stockdale.

“Admiral Stockdale was the highest-ranking United States military officer in the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prisoner of war camp during the height of the Vietnam war. He was tortured over 20 times during his 8-year imprisonment from 1965–1973.”

My short version of the story is that Collins asked Admiral Stockdale how he survived, not knowing “the end of the story.” Stockdale replied, “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect I would not trade.”

Then Collins asked – “who didn’t make it out?”

Stockdale told him about the optimists who kept believing they would get out by Christmas, or Easter, or Thanksgiving. Those holidays repeatedly came and went, and the optimists died of broken hearts. The lesson Stockdale told Collins is, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

I have kept this reminder in the forefront of my decisions. Asking, what are the facts as I know them right now? How do those facts impact what we need to do to prevail; regarding our health, our finances, our relationships.

Next Steps

  • Step One – Believe you will prevail. Write the end of the story. See it, feel it, sense it, trust it, believe in it. Keep the faith. When in doubt, refer back to it.
  • Step Two – Acknowledge the brutal facts of the situation. Look at your current circumstances, then consider the facts of your health, your finances, and your relationships. What do you know for sure? How do you know?
  • Step Three – Activate your plan and adjust accordingly. What will you do to not only survive but thrive? Make your plan and take action based on steps one and two to reach the end of your story and prevail.

Let’s make it out of this together. Let’s come out of our grounding even more grounded than when we went in. Our parent’s intention when grounding us was to have us face the consequences of our decisions. To reflect on what got us grounded. And to come out of it better for having had the experience.
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