March 29, 2011

Are we there yet?

I hate to travel, but I like to go places.

The problem is you can’t walk or even drive to places like Costa Rica or Florence, and if you have a three-day business trip in Phoenix, you’re going to fly. When you fly (or at least when I fly) things often go awry. I’m in Phoenix as I write this and my journey here did not go smoothly. I experienced several flight delays, missed my connecting flight, sat waiting on the tarmac for both planes to take off, and upon landing in Phoenix after midnight, for a final touch, waited again for over a half-hour for a gate to open up. I arrived at my hotel at 2 a.m. " a very long day.

In my hotel room, I was overtired and couldn’t fall asleep. Lying awake, I considered how the journey of traveling to a destination is similar to the journey of working toward accomplishing a goal. Whether personal or business, the journey to a destination can be challenging, a bit stressful, and frustrating. You set a good goal, develop a solid plan, set a due date, and expect the best. However, often it does not go as smoothly as you had envisioned or as quickly as you had planned. As in flying, delays are the most typical problem.

Why? First, most of us are generally too optimistic in regards to the time it will take to get something done. That’s just human nature. Second, you don’t have control over everything. Just like you have no control over the weather when flying, you have no control over the economy in business. Third, goals are typically an improvement from the status quo. In order to achieve these better results, we have to change our behaviors. Any behavioral change takes time, especially if it involves a group of people. Finally, the frustration from these delays is exacerbated by the fact that many of us are impatient. That’s just how we are wired in today’s world.

If time delays are an issue, can we get by without due dates for our objectives and just wait patiently for our goals to come to fruition? Of course not. You need to keep making an effort. I recently heard a Quaker saying which goes, "When you pray, move your feet." Don’t just hope for things, keep trying. Due dates create a sense of urgency and keep you moving toward your destination.

In hindsight, the flight delays were a good test for me. Patience can be an issue, and I continue to work on it. In this kind of situation, I realize I can’t control the process and have to accept the circumstance and make the best of it. (I’m sure you all know the Serenity Prayer – sometimes it’s just hard to live it!) So if you find yourself frustrated on your travels in life, remember to keep your eyes on the prize. The journey to your goal or destination can be difficult and full of delays, but when you reach your destination, it’s worth it!

P.S. Bad karma for my complaining about travel delays on my trip to Phoenix. On my way back, I had a three-hour delay in Phoenix, a four-hour delay in Chicago, and finally landed in Madison just before 2 a.m.!

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