5 Mins Read

What’s Your Response When Things Go Wrong?

Brandon Fluharty |

Brandon Fluharty |


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⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️

Today’s edition breaks down a simple framework you can use when things don’t go your way so you can learn and grow in every situation.

Let’s go!

Read time: <5 minutes

If you missed last week, read it here.


What happens when your brakes go out?

My wife and I have been on a six-week cross-country RV trip to celebrate her 50th birthday (I’m writing this edition from Zion National Park in Utah).

A big joy for me is to be able to explore new trails on my gravel bike. However, just as I was about to rip down a glorious trail outside of Flagstaff, AZ on Saturday, I noticed my brakes weren’t working. The back brake was completely shot, and the front one was half working.

After a few minutes of cursing to myself and a wave of frustration, I remembered a mantra my wife and I vowed to one another before the trip: “Always stay calm no matter what happens.”

Working on my emotional response to events has been a continual work in progress throughout my career, especially during the current phase of running a purposeful business from anywhere.

When you try bold things, more stuff will go wrong than right.

The brakes not working on a bike is a simple example for revenue generators and value creators to relate to in our journey because we’re incentivized to take risks, and when we try bold things, more stuff will go wrong than right.

However, your mental response, and ultimately the action you take immediately following these events, will determine your success and satisfaction in life.

A framework for thriving when sh*t happens

In his book Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine outlines three spheres of intelligence:

– Intellectually intelligent people are those with skills, knowledge, and cognitive abilities.

– Emotionally intelligent people can build trust, navigate team dynamics, and build solid relationships with others.

– Positively intelligent (mentally fit) people can activate the sage voice and weaken the different saboteurs of their minds. They can make their mind work for them rather than against them.

We’re taught to be intellectually intelligent in school. We can be trained to be emotionally intelligent through coaching and experience. But to be positively intelligent, something Shirzad claims is the key to unlocking your full potential, you need to practice.

Over time, I have developed a simple framework that keeps me in the zone of positivity, which is a leading driver of effective performance. Repeated often, and you build a pretty incredible career and life.

Here’s how it works.


I loaded my 20-mile route onto my WAHOO Roam and set off for the ride, but after quickly realizing the brakes were not working, I stopped.

I had a choice – either head back to the RV and pout or do something different. Taking a moment to pause opened up space for a more positive alternative.


Taking the time to slow my breath provided oxygen to my brain and calmed my nervous system.

Instead of operating in a heightened fight or flight mode, I was able to give myself the clarity to make a better decision.


Instead of focusing on what I was missing out on, I began to notice the beauty of the trees, the sun shining, and what was now in my control.

Instead of doing the entire twenty-mile route, I convinced myself I could at least get an hour of easy riding in with my half-working front brake on the flat stretch of road and trails near our campsite. This allowed me to get some exercise and fresh air and put me in a much better mood, which amplified the rest of the day.

Besides, discovering that my brakes weren’t operational at the beginning of the ride was a hell of a lot better than discovering it while descending at forty miles an hour.

Making mental fitness a part of your personal operating system

Again, the bike ride is a simple example, but we’re constantly faced with daily challenges. And the more risks we (have to) take, the more these will occur.

However, the most effective performers can turn these moments in their favor. Their positive intelligence is high, and they see the world and “negative events” in a different light. Instead of obstacles, they’re opportunities. They’re gifts.

They accept and stack up these gifts to use them for when times get really challenging, like when you experience a few quarters with $0 on the board, a job loss, or even something worse.

If the simple moments drag you down, it will be tough to navigate the heavier moments.

To make Pause/Breath/Reflect (PBR) automatic, you must make it a daily practice. Here are some things that have helped me:

Meditation. There are numerous studies on the positive benefits of meditation on the brain so if this is not yet a regular practice for you, it’s time to consider working it into your daily routine. I used to meditate for two hours daily in my twenties (I almost became a Buddhist monk), but now I meditate for just five minutes using the Mindfulness app on my Apple Watch. It doesn’t take much to reap the benefits of meditation.

Gratitude. A daily gratitude practice helps keep things in proper perspective. Things can be a lot worse. Understanding that, on a repeat loop, is how you avoid over-inflating your ego and self-worth. Do yourself a favor and write down just one thing you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of the day (or both).

Reading. I’m embarrassed by how few books I read when I was caught up in the hustle of corporate sales. The common excuse was, “I just don’t have time.” But we’re all given the same 1,440 minutes each day, so that argument doesn’t hold up. It came down to how I was choosing to spend my time. Swapping out social media or watching the news with a few book chapters can be way more enriching.

Writing. I haven’t been shy about sharing the power of writing in my career, and I’ll continue doubling down on that here. Writing daily, especially with prompts, is a tremendous skill to develop to dramatically improve your self-awareness (and up level so many other crucial skills in revenue generation). I ask myself, “What are you feeling and why?” and “What is one small action you can take to improve your situation?” Doing this one to two times daily profoundly impacts a week, month, quarter, and year.

Sleep. Let’s face it: making better decisions is hard when you’re sleep-deprived. According to IMD, a lack of sleep degrades both short-term and long-term memory. In other words, sleep-deprived decision-makers are likely to have access to fewer strategic options, decision criteria, and other information in their long-term memory. This knowledge, however, is crucial for making informed strategic decisions.” The fastest path to improving your mental fitness is improving your sleep hygiene.

Hope this was helpful. See you next week!


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