I flew to Phoenix recently, which for me is a four-hour cross-country ordeal that has become a routine part of my job. For this flight I had to make a late change to the date and time, which left me in the unfortunate situation of having to sit in the dreaded “middle seat.”
As any frequent flyer can attest, the middle seat is fine for those short 60-minute flights. For those cross-country trips, the seat is extremely undesirable.
I utilized every trick I had in my frequent flyer bag to somehow evade the punishment of sitting in-between two strangers for this flight. Still, the best the gate agent could do was offer an apology and a coupon for a free snack or drink.
At that moment I caught myself huffing and puffing about the indignity of the entire situation. Don’t these people understand how important my travel plans are? Are they aware of the amount of money I’ve spent on this airline over the years? Am I not the most valued customer they have ever known?
Just about then another frequent flyer walked up to the counter. This gentleman happened to be the “Super Duper, Diamond, Executive, Platinum, Pinnacle, Prince of the Airline” type of flyer. Based on his status, I assume this person spends half of his life at 35,000 feet.
He had decided to go on a rant with the gate agent about the fact that he hadn’t been upgraded on this flight and that “he” was indeed the most important person on the planet and a crucial part of this airline’s success.
It was in this moment that I took a step back and laughed to myself. This gentleman was the type of person that I spoke about in my sessions and talks. I recognized that I had almost allowed myself to become the very type of individual that I constantly remind my clients and customers to be wary of becoming. The type that focuses on the one thing that’s going wrong, rather than the hundreds of things that are going right.
It was time to give myself a checkup from the neck up. The one thing that wasn’t quite the way I wanted it was that I was sitting in the middle seat for the next several hours…so what!
I then started to mentally list off all the things about my day that were going oh so right.
First off, I was traveling on my favorite airline, which has treated me like a valued customer going on 20 years now, and receiving frequent flyer miles that I could use to take my family on a well needed vacation sometime soon. Also, I noticed that our flight was running on schedule with no delays this day, always a good thing. I then remembered that I had downloaded a movie I was really looking forward to watching. The deal I make with myself on the long flights is to work for about at least an hour, then relax and watch a movie as my reward.
Then, all the other things that were so “right” started pouring into my head.
I was going to work with an amazing client (all of my clients are amazing), traveling across the country to do a job I love and was born to do. I would get to stay at a first class hotel owned by the client and go to eat at one of their top-notch restaurants, maybe even have a nice glass of wine with my meal. Instead of going for my morning run on a treadmill, it would be warm enough to actually run outside in the sun.
The list just kept growing, and of course my attitude and energy shifted as a result of changing my thoughts, which by the way is exactly what I teach all my clients. I get to control my experience, nothing else.
Turned out that the flight landed about 40 minutes early and I happened to sit next to another business professional and had nice conversation about a job he was working on involving cloud based storage. I learned that his company “is” the cloud, and that the cloud is just dozens of gigantic climate controlled buildings with servers stacked from floor to ceiling… who knew?
Ask yourself this week:
Where am I focusing on the one or two things that are going wrong vs. the hundreds of things that are going right?
Our teams and our families will do as we do, not as we say, so what message am I sending them through my actions? Is it the message I want to send?
Where do I need to realize that I control my own experience? How will that have an impact on myself and those around me?
How am I in need of a “Checkup from the Neck Up?”
Thoughts for the week:
When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.
Enjoy the little things in life… for one day you will realize they were the big things.
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.
Remember it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing.
The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are, but how happy others can be because of you.
Looking forward to our next conversation
what a great quarter turn lesson, since I’ve been in this same situation with the middle seat.. The next time i will look at the middle seat differently..
Always great to hear from you! Hope you are having an amazing summer
Thanks…I needed that 🙂
We all need it at some point!
Have a great weekend, thanks for the comment
I LOVE this! A former coach once said to me: “you’re only job in the world is to look for what’s right; we are smart creatures and whatever we build a case for, will be created. So go build a case for what’s right, for what’s working in your life, and happiness will follow.” Good stuff Mr. Furlong!
Sounds like a wise coach!
Great to hear from you, thanks for the comment Marc
I sooo needed that!
I’m happy this helped!
Great hearing from you
I am not a supervisor anymore but I do like reading these emails still and hope that I can improve my personal outlook. I will try this the next time I’m in a situation that I need to step back and give myself a check-up.
Always a good idea to decide what you are focusing on, and if it’s the right thing or the wrong thing
We also have to remind ourselves that there are bad or uncomfortable “moments” in our day- not an entire day worth of “bad”.