Flirting With Disaster

The engines whined as they revved up.  We began to race down the runway readying for takeoff when everything, and I mean everything, came to an abrupt halt.  

The engines were brought down and the brakes were applied forcefully.

I slid forward in my seat, held in place by my seatbelt.
Overhead, bags slid in their bins.
And in the galley just in front of us, a cacophonous clatter caught the attention of all.

What happened?  Was it a near miss with another craft?  Did the first officer miss something? Will we be circling around to try again?

We slowly made our way down the runway.  Questions brewed. Are we going? Or… WHERE are we going?  The captain finally announced that we were on our way back to the gate.  That a circuit had blown in one of the engines, or maybe it was just that the indicator light came on.  And, “it’s probably nothing, but maintenance wants to check it out so we’re heading back to the gate.”

For almost a year, we had planned on a very special birthday vacation for my wife.  As we remained on the plane waiting for details, we wondered how delayed we’d be.

When we were asked to get off the plane so that maintenance could take care of business, we wondered how long it would be before the repairs were complete.

When the plane was taken out of service and the flight ultimately cancelled, we wondered how we’d get to our final destination.  And after an hour and twelve minutes on the phone with customer service followed by speaking with a customer service (or “CS” as they call it) agent in person, the reality hit.

Because of previous storms ALL flights on all carriers were booked with other passengers for the next few days.  We could get to a town three hours from where we wanted to be at 11pm two days out.  After renting a car and driving, that would put us into our destination at 3am on the third day of our six-day vacation.

Options?

Grief!  True, bitter, grief.

Our plans, all of them, vaporized.  We had gotten up at 1:30am to get out and on the road by 2:30 to get to the airport, check our bags, and board the plane by 4:40am.  We were tired.
We were hungry.
We were lost.

Yes, it’s a first-world problem when your vacation is yanked out from under you.  And still, it hurts a lot.

Here’s something for you to consider:  What is it that you truly have your heart set on?  What is it that you are heading toward and everything is lined up so that you’re on your way?  And how might you feel if, right at the point of lift-off for your project or dream, that was taken from you?

Denial – no, there’s still got to be a way!
Anger – these old planes, darn it.  Why can’t they have kept them up?
Bargaining – if only we’d chosen a different airline/different day/different itinerary
Depression – real tears
Acceptance – well, this is better to have happened on the ground than in the air.  We could have been stuck in some horribly out of the way airport. We have the opportunity to create a different adventure that’s totally different than the vacation we had planned.  We’ll get a second swing at going, just not now. What can we put together for ourselves right now?

We ate a great breakfast together.

We made plans for the upcoming few days.

And then, we went home and got on the computer to get some hotels arranged.  I repacked and reloaded the car.
We got back on the road and had the best “stay-cation” ever by exploring towns within a couple hours away from our home.  

The hotels were amazing.
We found restaurants that were phenomenal (including one run by a celebra-chef whom we ended up talking with).
We explored the scenery and wineries that we hadn’t been to.  And we broke our own rules of not joining any more wine clubs.

My wife and I are still feeling the sadness without being stuck in depression.  In fact, every time my online calendar dings to remind me that my flight is coming up, I feel a pang of sadness.  My calendar taunts me with, “here’s something you’re not enjoying.”

I live with a foot in two worlds.  We all do. We’re in the rational.  Yes, the trip that we had planned no longer exists.  And we live in the world of the emotional too, feeling the pangs that go with something no longer available.

Have you ever had your heart set on a particular meal only to find it fall away in front of you?  At a restaurant, “oh, our menu changed and that’s no longer on it.” At home or at the office, as you pull something from the stovetop or microwave only to watch it fall to the floor.  “I wanted that,” as your tongue flattens in your mouth and your stomach churns just a bit.

What kept us from being stuck in depression?
We still have feelings and some residual sadness, but we’re not stuck with that clouding every thought.  In fact, there are a few ways that we process things that a lot of people don’t access.

These are skills that need to be developed.
These are essential for any business to survive.  These are essential for any relationship to survive.

What do you have and what needs some work?

  1. Resilience – we know that a setback is not personal and it’s not permanent.  The airline didn’t do this TO us. In fact, safety first, the airline did this FOR us.  So, given a new set of circumstances, the question becomes, “what’s available to us now?”
  2. Internal Locus Of Control – We have control over our reactions and responses to the things that happen externally.  We can’t always control the external, but we can (almost) always control our reactions to them. External circumstances are situational and temporary.  Like fog, the moment will burn off and a different moment will avail itself.
  3. Teamwork – I trust my wife and she trusts me.  We didn’t need to lose our minds or blame each other for this tragedy outside of our control.  So often in business, internal blame happens. So often in relationships, internal blame happens.  Not here.
  4. Appreciation of Adventure – “So, now what?” spoken with a smile in your voice – whether to yourself or someone else – is going to serve you.  The quest for new experiences is a core human drive. My saying is “Stay Curious.” I’m a big fan of that and most of my readers know that Curious George accompanies me on my journeys.  He reminds me to stay curious and he reminds me that in every situation, there’s a bit of humor to be found.

Which of these do you have available to you at any point in your business or relationships?  Which do you rely on for yourself? And which do you need to work on?

You’re a high-achiever.  That’s why you’ve chosen to join me in my Wednesdays With Wayne.  That means you’re striving to get better.  Your reactions to events may need some tuning.  Your ability to be clear about your resources might need some focus.

Take that time.
Practice.

Let me know how you’ve been able to grow through the hard times to create some decent times!  

If you’re looking for other resources, I invite you to check out my whole site for books, online programs, and more.  www.DynamicLeader.com

And this Friday, stay tuned for a special promotion of my latest Leadership Book that I’ve co-authored with Amy Morgan.  Oh, my gosh. It’s a hoot and you’ll learn something, too!

Until next week, Keep Making Your Magic™!

~ Dr P ~

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