How to Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation



I decided to take a vacation after a very long time. Some of you would scream in accusation “you don’t practice what you preach!” Well that’s why I decided to take the vacation, call it repentance in line with the other plans to revitalise my life (see Birthday Musing). Anyway for adventure’s sake, I decided to do the travels by road. My last trip before heading home was from Lagos to Abuja Nigeria, a journey of about seven hundred kilometres.  All the other journeys had been by mini executive buses that carry about fifteen passengers, but this particular one, by some innocent miscalculation, ended up being one of those gigantic luxury buses that convey about sixty passengers at a time. At the sight of the bus, I immediately reconsidered the journey, but reminded myself that I was on an adventure, my experiences ought to vary. The bus was air-conditioned and I had enough room for my legs, so it wouldn’t be that bad, I thought, except that it would be a ten-hour journey instead of the six hours it would have been by a mini-bus or one hour by flight (Oh yeah, I really looked for trouble).

We left the bus terminal at about 7:05am, and I settled to enjoy the journey. Armed with my Beats headphones by Dr Dre and my endless compilation of music, I was ready to make the best of the long journey.  Three and a half hours later, I noticed that the bus was jerking slightly; looking out of the window, all I could make out was a thick forest. Leaning gently towards my neighbour I inquired as to where we were and received a slight shake of the head as a reply. Two minutes after that, the bus coughed twice like a wounded whale and rolled to a halt. We spilled out of the bus like ants from an irritated anthill, to be received by an angry blistering sun, a stretch of narrow winding empty road, thick green vegetation on both sides, and surprisingly, a handful of children hawking boiled corn. I wondered where they came from, because there were no signs of life or houses as far as my eyes could see.

Panic struck when I raised my phone and was greeted by a ‘no network’ signal, “you got to be joking” I muttered under my breath as I scanned the faces of the likewise panicked crowd, everyone staring at their phones and  realising the predicament we faced; we could neither call for help nor let anyone know where we were. As I scanned the faces, I noticed a dark respectable gentleman also scanning the crowd and our eyes met. He walked up to me extending his hand and asked for my name. I introduced myself, and the next thing he said was

 “Don’t worry Kani, I have toothpaste in my bag, I’ll share with you”

“What? “ I thought to myself, “Is this guy suggesting we are going to sleep here?” The petrified look on my face must have been obvious because he burst out laughing.

He looked at me after he got control of himself and said “Kani, the bus has stopped, you have no control over it, we are in the middle of nowhere, you have no control over it, there is no network here, you have no control over it, so what do we do?,” He was staring at me with a twinkle in his eyes waiting for an answer.

“What kind of a person is this, I thought to myself? He is actually having fun” but thinking about what he said a little more, I decided to try and calm a little bit.

Seeing I was on board, he suggested we explore our environment while we wait for the driver to get to a network area and radio for help and off we went.

In summary, we discovered an old woman selling ‘bush meat’ (roasted grass cutters and antelopes), a salon where they sold palm wine and a mini restaurant that sold pounded yam and a mixture I’m sure they meant to serve as stew. My crazy new friend suggested we ate, that he had a few Flagyl tablets in his bag to cure any stomach upset that were to arise, but I was not that adventurous, you would agree that I had to draw the line somewhere. I took some bush-meat home though.  Anyway at this point, we had recruited a bunch of converts who were tired of sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves; they went to town on the palm wine, food and any other thing they could find. The discussions were vast and varied. My crazy friend had an enormous amount of knowledge on history and geography, coupled with some other folk who had different kinds of information. We had a blast. A rescue vehicle eventually rolled in with a mechanic aboard about four hours later, and in twenty minutes, we were on our way again. 

We got to Abuja about midnight, after a gruelling fifteen hours on the road, and as we disembarked waving good bye to newly made friends, I marvelled at how the worst cases can still have good turns.  On this trip I learnt a valuable lesson, one I would like to share with you, on how to make the best out of a bad situation. So here goes,

Check your attitude to the situation: Ranting and raving about a situation you can’t control is like hitting your head against a brick wall. The wall would remain intact, but you wouldn’t; you’ll get a bloody head and a headache as big as Africa. So, when faced with an unplanned situation, take a deep breath before you react. Understand that stuff will always happen no matter how well you plan and how careful you are; you don’t control all the variables.

Search for a glimpse of hope: In most cases of hopeless situations, it’s not that there are no signs of hope at all; it’s just that they are not the kind we would have preferred. In my trip, the group of children hawking boiled corn in the middle of nowhere was a glimpse of hope in a place that looked void of life. It made us feel that we weren’t alone at least. Search for the sign of light ray in your difficult situation it helps you reduce the feeling of doom that attacks your mind at that point.

Seek and connect to the right people: you cannot go through difficult times alone, even the bible says “two is better than one”. Whether it’s business failure, unexpected break down of a car or any trouble in your life for that matter, its better dealt with someone who understands. A note of warning here, connecting with someone who has a wrong perspective will destroy you twice as fast as someone who has proper perspective will help you get through.  The greater number of people on our bus sat around the bus under the scorching sun for hours, imagine how terrible they must have felt, and how they must have suffered, while we sat in a shade a few minutes away and had a ball. Seek out people with similar or better perspectives than you.


Find a good and if possible, constructive distraction: In most cases of unexpected hick-ups in plans, the situations tend to be outside of our control; waiting for a mechanic to come and fix your broken car, failing a test and waiting another one year before you can have the opportunity to retake it, waiting your turn behind a long queue to be attended to, etc. Remaining idle and fretting over your wasted time is the wrong approach, engage yourself in an activity especially a constructive one; read a book, take a course, learn to drive a power bike, learn to cook, write a book…


Always remind yourself it won’t last forever:  The most crucial lesson of dealing with a bad situation is to remind yourself that it is only temporary. Even if it takes longer than anticipated, it will end. The fact that the particular circumstance would not be your permanent address helps you survive the lent of time you have to endure it, because you want to experience the joy of its ending.


“It’s not what you are going through that is important, but how you feel about what you are going through.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes

 "Image courtesy of Cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.

9 comments:

  1. Wow!what an amazing trip?well narrated.You write so well that I glued my eyes to this story till the end because I was waiting with estacy to satisfy my curiosity of what could possibly happen or better still what finally happened.This is a good piece.All I need to do is just practise.Thank u Dr kani!

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  2. Thank you so much Oma! :•) I'm glad you enjoyed the story(believe me it had its scary moments) but happier that you are willing to try the principles. I believe that from today Oma would begin to make the best of every situation. Cheers!

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  3. Well said..Enjoyed reading this...

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  4. Welcome to the world of "Gulliver Travels"! I have being in such situations unaccountable times and honestly tis not palatable! not when I am on a mission to achieve my goals and not a pleasure ride. As I read through I pictured the situation very vividly, and what I saw were 2 kinds of people namely: jolly people/gloomy people; buoyant people/broke people/; positive people/grumpy people; hopeful people/hopeless people; thankful people/ungrateful people...... the list is endless! No doubt is all about how you view life, what your perception is in all of the life drama. PK at least you all arrived safely even though exhausted! my favorite saying is "WHAT HAS BEEN IS GONE AND WHAT SHALL BE IS NOW" why cry over you can't change? (easier said than done ) You and your pals chose and perhaps could afford some bush meat ( yum! by the way I am salivating) just chilling and enjoying some picnic... while others sat brooding and counting their losses. o ma sheo!
    I thoroughly enjoyed the read......

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  5. Thank you for sharing your journey & take aways. This is something we all need to be reminded of at some time or another. Sounds like an interesting trip.Good read.

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