Tales From the Emergency Exit

“I’m mad and I am not gonna take it anymore?…”

Steven Slater’s 15 minutes of fame shenanigans made major headlines and awarded him cult figure status overnight just because he threw a fit. What? You don’t know who Steven Slater is?

Don’t despair. If you have no clue and the name means nothing to you, I applaud you. Your oblivion means you either haven’t been paying attention and you are spared the US pop culture and sensationalist media hype or you are happily tucked away in another geography and you couldn’t care less about yet another guy who has had it with his life, his job, his reality and simply snapped.

While all of us can empathize (maybe) with the Stevens of this world and can probably recall our own encounters with pressure, borderline abusive and offensive behaviors by employers, subordinates, children, spouses or reckless drivers who cut us off during the ugly morning commute – after all life is nothing but a consistent test of perseverance and willpower – we don’t snap and take off.

Is this where our “civilized” world has come to? Over 200,000 people have signed on to Steven’s Facebook fan page, twitter shows him as a trending topic and the editor of  Harvard Business Review devoted his time and effort on the dumbfounding Mr. Slater.

Stress as an all encompassing excuse for all kinds of asinine behavior is a naive and overly simplistic attribution. Life is stressful – there is no bigger shock than birth itself – but we don’t throw off the handle and jump off the emergency chutes of landing planes when we find opposition, adversity and hard to handle situations.

I can’t help but think of the masterful Seth Godin when he said:  “Don’t worry about what happened yesterday (or five minutes ago)….Think about what you can do that will make a huge impact in six months. The breaking news mindset isn’t just annoying, it may be distracting you from what really matters…”

And when nothing else works when you are stressed, just think of the emergency chute – but not the one Steven used – just the one you will not regret the day after.

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