From Stuck Tires to Alarm Clocks: My Philosophy Shift

From Stuck Tires to Alarm Clocks: My Philosophy Shift

Stephen Carter
February 1, 2022
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It seems to be all about the mindset shift, what Jim Rohn would call our “philosophy”: “A major factor in determining how our lives turn out is the way we choose to think.”

It’s not what’s happening to me that’s the problem; it’s how I think about what’s happening to me that’s the problem. If I want to change my life for the better, I need to change my philosophy for the better.

Those very words are in my journal from last night. It’s one thing to write something down, but it’s entirely something else to take action on it.

This morning, my two kids piled in the car with just a few minutes to spare in order to make it to school on time. When I turned on the car to back out of the garage, I noticed that my tire pressure was low in the back tire. I quickly turned off the car and assessed the situation.

“No problem,” I thought, “This is exactly why I keep a tire inflator in the car.”

I grabbed the device and stuck the cord into the car outlet only to find that it was too short to reach the back tire.

“No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just pull my wife’s car up close to my back tire and plug the inflator into her car outlet.”

I pulled her car out of the garage and maneuvered it into place right behind my own parked car. Just as I was getting it into the perfect position, I felt the front tires slip over the edge of the driveway and into the mulched bed.

“No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just fill this tire really quick, back her car out of the way, and be on my way in no time.”

At this point, my fifth-grade daughter was knocking on the car window from inside the car and pointing to her watch. Her new watch she got for Christmas. She was not showing it off and expressing gratitude, however. She was signaling that I was going to receive her wrath if she was late.

I quickly grabbed the inflator, hooked it up to my back tire, and stretched the cord to the car outlet in my wife’s car. It was, of course, too short yet again.

“No problem,” I thought, “It’s off to plan B—I’ll just stop at the gas station on my way to school.”

I hopped back into my wife’s car to move it out of the way only to discover, as I put the car into reverse, that it was hopelessly stuck with the two front tires spinning wildly in the mulch.

“Okay,” I thought, “Now there might be a problem.”

After a few more tries and considerable spraying of mulch, I went inside and called for my wife.

She came outside and looked at her stuck car which was completely blocking my own car. She then looked at the newly designed mulch pattern I had just created in the bed. Then she looked at me, shook her head, rolled her eyes, and smiled.

And that right there was the philosophy change I needed. Here we were, in 12-degree weather, hopelessly stuck, late for school, and with low tire pressure. A perfect opportunity to get mad and frustrated and set my tone for the whole day.

But, instead, we smiled. And laughed. And then I stood in the mulch and pushed as hard as I could while my wife put the car in reverse and somehow, miraculously, it worked.

And out of the back window of my car were two faces who had been watching the whole process. They had seen their dad have every opportunity to kick the tires and punch the steering wheel and curse under his breath (or pretty much just out loud), but instead they saw their parents smiling and laughing.

They were hopelessly late for school, of course, but in the end, it turned out to be a great morning because, with the help of my wife and her ability to point out my ridiculous behavior with a single look, I was able to change my philosophy.

Zig Ziglar is famous for calling his alarm clock an “opportunity clock.” Perhaps that’s the philosophy shift at its finest—each day, as it goes off, it doesn’t signal alarm and fear and panic and stress but rather an opportunity to take all of life’s challenges and problems and, through them, become better than we were yesterday.

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