Curve balls, strike outs, and home runs

Well, that was fun. (Not.)

Calm x Panic creative sign with clouds as the backgroundThe day started out so great. The weather was gorgeous. I got a great workout in. I was dressed, packed, organized, and ready to leave right on time for my trip to Raleigh, NC where I was the featured speaker for an Oral Surgeon’s study club the following evening. So organized in fact that I had taken care of all the projects that required me to be physically in my office and saved the ones that only required my laptop for my upcoming flight to Raleigh where I knew I would have five hours each way of uninterrupted time plus an extra four hours in my hotel room before my evening presentation. Total work heaven! I had even prioritized my list of articles, website content, blog posts, and upcoming speech handouts… all due “yesterday.”

As an added benefit, Tom was driving me to the San Diego airport that morning, 75 miles away. Knowing I had so much time on the upcoming flights, I didn’t even work in the car while Tom drove. I just sat back, took in the pretty Southern California scenery, listened to the radio, and enjoyed my time with Tom. I was already checked in for my flight, having grabbed a preferred seat with extra legroom the day before, prepaid my luggage, and boarding passes were delivered to my cell phone with TSA Pre-Check. I was in that happy mood you get when you feel totally in control of your life and circumstances.”

That was until… standing by the x-ray conveyor belt in security, I stared dumbfounded into the empty section of my backpack where my laptop should always be… but clearly wasn’t. As people begun to wonder if I was quite alright, I had the dawning recollection that Tom had been using my laptop when I was packing up that morning and while I had grabbed the power cord and all the attachments… I had wanted to let him finish what he was doing before sliding the computer into my bag. My brain tried very hard to tell me in no uncertain terms, “This IS NOT happening!” But it was. My laptop was still sitting on my desk at home.”

I stepped out of the line and, feeling utterly upended, plopped down on a hard bench in the “Recombobulation Area” (is that really a word?) and began to run through the options in my head. I could feel something like panic rising up through my chest. I knew I could give my speech without my laptop but I could not finish all of the projects which were due immediately without it… and I had 14 precious hours ahead of me over the next two days that I had counted on to finish them. “This IS NOT happening!” But, it was. .”

I elbowed my way up to front of the line at the airline counter and must have looked a bit like a crazy woman when I asked if there was another flight I could take later in the day? There was one more, with one seat left, for an extra $250… I whipped out my credit card in a flash. Score! I called Tom who (great guy that he is) said of course he would rush home, grab the laptop, and bring it back to me at the airport. 150 miles round trip. I took a deep breath and headed straight to the bar. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.”

That was until… Tom called to ask me exactly what time I needed to board the next flight? 2:45, why? “I’m on my way but I’ll never make it in time. GPS says 3:00 arriving at the airport. Your flight leaves at 3:10. I’m sorry, honey. This isn’t going to work.” This IS NOT happening! But, it was. Plainly hearing my total distress and near meltdown, he sweetly offered to overnight it from the Fed Ex office. I’d have it by 10:30 in the morning. It was the best we could do. And true to his word, and another $200 later, the laptop did arrive at my hotel sharply at 10:30 the next morning.”

I can’t even describe how ridiculous I felt by the time it did. Once I had boarded the plane after practically hanging up on Tom, fighting back actual tears on the jet way, and acting like a spoiled rotten child to everyone around me… I finally had to swallow the fact that my stupid laptop was not here and I would just have to accept it, like it or not. It began to sink in that in all my panicking and over-reacting, I had just dropped $450 unnecessary dollars, would now arrive at midnight instead of 7:00 pm and still had no laptop. But, I did however have my paperback book, now quite visible at the bottom of my empty backpack, which I hadn’t picked up in over a month. I ordered some hot tea, leaned my seat back, and begrudgingly picked up my book for the cross country flight ahead. As I opened it, I began to feel the calm, mature, normal Katherine start to internally laugh at the immature, over-stressed, ridiculous Katherine in the same way a mother would at a 2-year-old that had just kicked and screamed herself to sleep on the floor after not getting her way.”

The lesson? Once again, the same lesson I seem to need to learn over and over: We cannot control our circumstances but we have absolute control over our reaction to them. In retrospect, I think I wasn’t as much panicked as I was outright angry that all the work I had so carefully planned was now not going to happen in exactly the way I wanted it to. And that anger and the resulting panicky behavior cost me… Money. Stress. But mostly, disappointment in  myself. I know better and I can do better. I just didn’t choose it that time.”

mms-oct-10I love a sign that sits atop my friend’s mantel that says, “Not to spoil the ending… but everything’s going to be okay.” I’m hopeful that, with the expensive and freshly re-learned lesson, next time I will remember that. I hope I will choose more wisely because you know I really enjoyed finishing that book as well as chatting with the interesting gentleman next to me on the plane for a while. I also enjoyed the next morning (until my laptop arrived) relaxing with breakfast in bed and getting a solid workout in at the gym… none of which would have happened working away on my laptop. Turns out I still met the deadlines and got the work done in time. Not to spoil the ending or anything.”

We’re heading into baseball playoff season and with a game on almost every night, there’s constant background chatter about curve balls, strikeouts, and home runs. This week, and in all the weeks to come, do not follow my example when you are up to bat in the world series of life! Decide now to choose wisely when life throws you the curve ball. Expect a strikeout standing at home plate, when you panic, stress out, and over-react. The home run will be scored not by behaving badly but by keeping our head, our eye on the ball, and remembering that everything works out. We know better. And we can choose to do better. I’ll keep at it, if you will. With enough of us doing a little thing like that all the time… we could probably change the world.”

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A lion cub’s life depends on how the Lioness helps them quickly become independent – just like employees depend on us to teach the skills they need to be successful.”

What can we learn from the Lioness’ approach?

It’s a jungle out there!

Whether you manage 2 people or 200, join Katherine Eitel Belt, the Unscripted Communication Expert, as she takes us through the jungle of effective leadership, management, and training skills and demonstrates how adult learners make real and lasting change. She’ll share lessons on coaching teams that will forever impact the way you teach important information and the way you create consistency and accountability to ignite employees’ ultimate potential.  Click here for more information.


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“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to
more easily assess the situation and see the options.”
~~ Simon Sinek

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