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Delayed Flights - a lesson in self-leadership from 30,000 feet

by Kalie Gladwin December 6, 2012

One of my primary motivators is a core value that all people matter. Therefore I want to do whatever I am able to add value to people's lives.

This week in the most unexpected place, I was reminded that if I don't lead myself well, I am counter-productive to achieiving that goal of adding value. In fact, I am counter-productive to achieving anything at all.

The unexpected place was on a plane, somewhere between Singapore and London.

My goal in this instance was to begin my holiday energetic and ready to explore Paris - or as energetic as one can be after a 20 hour journey. Delayed flights, and missed connections, and 20 hours became 36.

I caught myself inwardly complaining about the consequences of the delays, and feeling anxious every time the engine noise changed (I'm not a fan of flying). My imagination behaved like an overly-dramatic teenager, shifting between paralysing fear and foot stomping, hair flicking tantrums.

At that point I decided to use my powers for good instead of evil, and began thinking about the impact of not leading myself well (the abridged version of those thoughts = impact not good for me or anyone with me). I had a firm talk with myself (the polite version of that talk = toughen up, Princess).

I had no influence over the delay, the re-routing, or the flying of the plane. I did, however, have influence over how I experienced those things.  And my attitude would influence the experience my family had.

So toughen up I did.

I started writing this blog. I chatted to my husband and son. I read my Kindle. I slept. I focused on the positive outcomes of the delay rather than on the delay itself.

Leading myself well means:

  1. Choosing the right attitude
  2. Finding the positives in any situation (there is always at least one)
  3. Talk about the positives with my team 
  4. Don't ignore the problems, but be pro-active in finding solutions
  5. Celebrate the journey as well as the achievement 

One of the positives we experienced due to the delay (which had added an unplanned detour via Heathrow) was seeing the White Cliffs of Dover from the air.

That was cool.