Monday, May 3, 2010

Predicament or Problem?

On a recent trip to Germany I was able to read John Maxwell’s “The Difference Maker.” One chapter deals with problems and how to solve them. Dr. Maxwell also observes that there is a difference between problems and predicaments. He explains that problems can be solved while predicaments or dilemmas have to be accepted and worked around.

I had a few examples of how to solve problems and accept a predicament during my trip. I was visiting with my family on the occasion of the 85th birthday of my mother. My first problem was that I can’t walk very well due to hip degeneration. The airline transporting me to Germany was very helpful in providing wheelchair and transportation on a layover. My daughter welcomed me in Frankfurt and accompanied me further on the train ride to my mother’s. She had rented a wheelchair and with the help of some other young people, I even went sightseeing and got to enjoy a day in the German country side.

In Berlin we visited with my brother who also had a wheel chair handy. I toured an old fashioned flee market as well as the new opened exhibition “Topography of Terror.” It depicts a dark part of the history of Germany with a remnant of the Wall as well the location of the headquarters of the former Nazi regime. I believe it to be an important part of the reconciliation which all of the German people have to go through to forgive their past.

On the way home, we had a predicament. The volcano of Iceland which had disrupted the air travel over Europe for more than 6 days in April was acting up again. Without warning we couldn’t take off in Frankfurt at the exact time. For two hours we were seated in the plane, waiting to get an o.k. Finally, we got cleared by the air control and were directed to fly north of the volcano. The usual route is south of Iceland. That gave a fantastic view of the whole scene. Predicaments can’t be changed and have to be dealt with through acceptance.

“A problem is something you can do something about. If you can’t do something about it, then it’s not a problem. It’s a predicament.” - John Maxwell – “The Difference Maker”

It is important to understand the difference between a problem and a predicament. Mr. Maxwell states, that when people treat a predicament as a problem, they can become frustrated, angry, or even depressed. It wastes energy, and we make bad decisions which can lead to victim hood. My return flight was a good example. There was nothing we could do but wait until the airline cleared our take off. We were lucky that we took off at all and even luckier that we arrived safely, despite the delay.

I am grateful to be home again with a rich experience of trusting others by staying calm and faithful myself.

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