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Leadership Planning: Subject to Change

Last week was a wild week of unpredictable events.

I started the week in San Antonio, with two team members. We presented to Chick-Fil-A Operators at their annual Seminar. When we finished, we high-tailed it to the airport to make our flight to Louisville. It wasn’t meant to be.

Our plan backed away from the gate, began to taxi out to the runway—when all of a sudden it returned to the gate. Some button had failed in the cockpit. We waited another thirty minutes when the pilot announced they had it fixed—and we were now ready take flight. Again, it wasn’t meant to be. We got a hundred yards out on the runway when we received the announcement that the button had failed again. We would need to return to the gate. This time, we waited about 20 minutes, when the pilot announced we had to go back inside the airport. We all lugged our bags inside the gate area and waited further instructions. At this point, the pilot said they planned to borrow a button from another airline. This sounded good, but a half hour later—our crew discovered no other airline had that button to share. It was then, I realized I wouldn’t make my connecting flight, which was the last flight of the night. As it turned out, I returned to Atlanta, spent five hours in a hotel and took the next flight out in the morning. Not exactly what I’d planned.

Two days later, I hopped on another flight, for Grand Rapids. With the last trip still lingering in my memory, I felt sure this one would arrive to my destination on time. The previous incident had to be an isolated case. Or…was it? When our plane taxied out on the runway, literally moments away from departure, someone yelled for a flight attendant. The plane stopped and we sat while staff and doctors on board were summoned to help a passenger who needed some medical attention. We returned to the gate and waited another an hour and a half.

You can probably guess—I was reminded of a life lesson. The best-laid plans must be made in pencil. In fact, the boarding pass I received when boarding my flight included the words in caps: “Subject to Change.”  What an understatement. Life should come with a disclaimer attached: “subject to change.” The truth be told, life is all about managing expectations in light of these changes. Those who love planning and control struggled the most with this reality. Control is a myth.

Every one of us must determine where to place the events and encounters we face. A friend once told me everything belongs in one of three buckets:

1.     Stuff in my control.  (These we must act responsibly).

2.     Stuff out of my control. (These we must trust God).

3.     Stuff within my influence. (These we must act wisely).

Our greatest frustrations in life surface when we confuse the events and people in our lives and put them in the wrong bucket.

Tim

1 Comment

  1. Jeremiah on February 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I really enjoyed hearing you at the CFA Seminar in San Antonio! Thank you for your insights. I also know how you felt with you flights as I grew up as an airline employee’s son. May we all better manage our expectations and our responses to the unexpected.

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Leadership Planning: Subject to Change