Right now I’m sitting on my 6th plane in 6 days. On top of this I’ve been in the airports in Phoenix, Chicago, Amsterdam, Stuttgart and Munich. I’ve been on three train systems all with major strikes or closures and a few taxi’s. Today as I was hustling (at least trying to hustle) from the International terminal in Chicago to catch my final flight home I got picked for the “random” check in customs where you get to unpack your final pack job (that means lots of dirty clothes all positioned perfectly to barely fit to just squeeze the zipper shut. Then I ran into the security road-block. The one where there’s 150 people who are stressing about making their co nection (I was one of them) and there’s one line open and the smug TSA guy who is letting everyone know that the TSA is understaffed and has been for 5 years (a fact that us frequent travelers definitely know well and our congressman don’t).
Once I finally made it through security I got to get some badly needed movement in after sitting for over 10 hours today (badly needed movement is a nice way of saying a frickin sprint to the farthest gate from the security check to catch your already boarding flight). As I got there I was greeted by the lecture of the brilliant flight attendant who wanted me to know that I had wrinkled my boarding pass and it may not go through the machine. So what did I do at that moment…..you know the moment I’m speaking of. It’s the moment when you fight back every primal urge to put him through the boarding pass machine and then stuff him in the overhead storag. But instead, I took plan B – I smiled. The reason I smiled is because I had mentally prepared for a tough day of traveling. I didn’t want any surprises and I didn’t want this marathon day of traveling to ruin my reunion with my fiancé, my son and my lick happy dog.
Everyday I train and coach busy top executives who tell me stories of how work and life just sap every ounce (or ml) of positive attitude they have. They tell me how this treadmill of travel, the endless emails and silly meetings, the random deadlines, and covert performance expectations are too much to bear. But I teach them how to become proactive rather than reactive. I teach them how to mentally, physically, emotionally and nutritionally prepare to not let life drain them. Yet here I was feeling just like them and wondering what could come next.
So I get on the oversold plane (which is a nice way to say it will be packed and my carry on suitcase won’t have any room) and I squeeze into my little window seat and I begin to sweat…….and after my run to the gate, I mean really sweat. So I ask Mr. Smarty pants who lectured me about my un-ironed boarding pass why the plane was so hot. “It’s no worries sir, our APU is down so we don’t have any air conditioning. But don’t worry as soon as we take off it will cool down.” He replied.
Well, one thing you can be guaranteed is that an oversold flight will never take off on time. So, 40 minutes later we took off and I now smell like a person who has 2 / 2 the nice fragrance of a Dutch cab, a commuter train, 10 hours of flying, a stress response and a 440 meter sprint combined into my last set of clothes. I would feel sorry for myself but to be honest I feel worse for the poor guy next to me.
But the best part is that I’m happy. Why am I happy? No….it’s not because they just served the liquor. I’m happy because I started my day with some daily prep movements, I ate a great breakfast, I took a few minutes to mentally prepare for a long day of travel with lots of unknowns. I did some breathing techniques on the train and I got a couple of powernaps on the first flight. In my sprint I grabbed some healthy raw nuts and two bottles of water so I didn’t have to eat the crappy processed food they are serving. And now, I’m writing to you and mentally preparing for coming home to a warm healthy meal, a great support system, a dog who doesn’t care how bad I smell and my own shower and bed. Why am I happy? I’m happy because I wasn’t a victim today. I didn’t let the day get the best of me. I’m still smiling and I’m still a Sustainable High Performer. I’m happy because I came prepared for today.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer