Stop letting the actions of others dictate your day

I was driving down a single-lane street in downtown Barcelona during the morning rush. When suddenly the driver of the car in front of me slammed on his brakes, got out of his car and walked into a corner bar, leaving not only me, but a line of people waiting.

As you might imagine, chaos ensued. In a flash the signs of spring sun were replaced with dark clouds of raining F-bombs.

Finally after a few minutes the driver peaked his head out of the bar and motioned for us to sit tight. Something about the man’s apologetic gesture put me at ease. I began to think that moments later he would reappear with a perfectly good explanation for impeding the progress of hundreds, if not thousands of others.

After another eight minutes, true to his word the man came out of the bar and just as I thought he did have a reason — unfortunately it wasn’t a very good one.

Instead of escorting an elderly relative to his car or having in his arms the cure for cancer, the guy was carrying a croissant in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

Yes, you read that right — the reason the dude stopped his car in the middle of morning rush-hour was because he was hungry.

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Croissant Man exists, but only if you let him:

I don’t know about you but these kinds of things piss me off. These daily frustrations not only affect my mood in the moment but I allow them to stay with me throughout the day.

However, something interesting happened while Croissant Man was getting his fix, instead of allowing my accelerated heart rate to beat negative I caught myself and refused to let him have a say.

While the crowd frowned, I forced myself to smile. Then I took a few deep breathes, called a friend, left a message for my wife and let the client I was in town visiting know I was in route.

In short, for once in my life instead of allowing Croissant Man to steal my time I made the most of it.

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Our only job is to be present and to be positive:

The only certainty in life is that bad things are going to happen, most of which are entirely out of our control. However, what we do have control over is how we choose to respond when the Croissant Men of the world try to take a bite out of our day.

Do you think someone cutting Warren Buffett off in traffic affects his ability to make sound investment decisions?

Do you think a train delay affects Seth Godin’s state of mind when he sits down to write his daily blog?

Do you think negative criticism affects Oprah Winfrey’s energy when the director says go.

These were rhetorical questions, but the answer to all three is a resounding “NO.” While others complain, they get to work. They do this because they know the fastest way to not move forward is by allowing the actions of others to push them back.

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Thank you Croissant Man:

Everyone has an opinion on how to best build and sustain success. But all of it is worthless if you don’t make the choice to silence Croissant Man.

You will never be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t give the task at hand 100 percent of your focus.

You will never be a valued friend if you don’t give the people in front of you 100 percent of your presence.

You will never be an effective parent if you don’t give your children 100 percent of your love.

Croissant Man definitely exists but successful people choose to not allow him to trip them every time he sticks out his foot.

I write a lot about “self-help” for the simple fact I want to better help myself. Sometimes I wonder if all this “growth” talk is really worth it. Today I didn’t and I have Croissant Man to thank for that.

He finally opened my eyes to the fact that everything is a choice.

And I can’t recommend enough the next time something stupid happens you choose to smile, wave and simply say — “Not today.”

“I love those who can smile in trouble.” — Leonardo da Vinci

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Big thanks to Brian Pennie for teaching me how to deal with Croissant Man. If you aren’t following him already, you should.

If you enjoyed this article feel free to learn more about how I help people create more opportunities here.

Article first appeared in The Startup (Medium.com).