While spending my annual two-week vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, we had a day where it rained (like it does every year on our vacation). Now, when it rains here we are not talking about a little shower but rather torrential downpours that make visibility a challenge.
As a reminder, I reside in Vancouver, British Columbia, the rain capital of Canada and there was a distinctive difference between how we handle being caught in the rain and how the people in this region handle it.
Here, no one is in a hurry. There’s not a mad dash to shelter, covering their heads with their hands which I never understood that one. Roads were flooded here and I noticed school girls walking across the street at a regular pace. Understand, that here all school kids wear a uniform and the girls are a plaid skirt with a white blouse, knee-high white socks, and black shoes. Most of the girls I saw just took off their shoes and socks and walked across the flooded street with water well past their ankles as if nothing was happening.
The question then becomes, why are these people so laid back when it comes to dealing with this, whereas, in North America, we are treating it like it will harm us if we get a little wet? Why, does this prevailing attitude of ‘no big deal’ blend into the way the Mexican people do business versus our ‘continued panic’ to move to the next step/meeting/client/call/project/etc.?
In conversation with some friends that I have here, I was reminded of a saying taught to me a long time ago when I was taking management training: “You can only control what you can control. Everything else is out of your control so why does it matter?”
How much time do we all spend every day attempting to control the things that we have no hope of controlling? How often do we wish for a different outcome, when the outcome is completely out of our hands? How often have you beaten yourself up over something that was beyond your control?
One of the reasons that I love Mexico, (obviously besides sun, sand, and surf) is the service industry and how they are solely focused on making sure the people they are in charge of getting service above and beyond their expectations. An example of this is when we were traveling we came upon a resort, Aak Bal, and there were only three rooms rented. However, the restaurant had nine servers. How is that for controlling the experience the guests got.
On the other hand, how many times have you gone into a restaurant and are disappointed in the service and allow that to control your day and in some cases ruin someone else’s? Think about it, how much control do you have in the experience of dining out? Sure, you can get up and leave. You could complain to the manager or server. You can even write a scathing review on social media. In the long run, what does it get you?
We as a society in North America have forgotten to look at the forest for the trees. We have forgotten to be grateful for everything we have and instead chase the things we think we want. We no longer communicate with a simple hello or smile, but instead run away from our fellow man. I wonder which society is really more progressive.
Maybe, we should all just take a stroll during the next rainstorm. After all, you can’t control it, so enjoy it.