WOman looking out airplane window.

Outside the window, red and blue lights flashed and a line of red lights snaked its way toward our plane.

The flight attendant spoke into the intercom.  “This is standard procedure for an unscheduled landing.  Don’t be alarmed.”

Who was she kidding?

I’d been planning this trip to Vancouver for weeks, and at first everything had lined up perfectly: Four clients, four days, not a wasted minute, back to Nashville in time for the weekend. What could be better?

But then Harvey called to say he could only do a half-day.  And Emira emailed to explain she had a “situation” and needed to reschedule. Just as I was about to leave, another client said her father was expected to die momentarily and they would need to reschedule as well.

I felt that familiar prick of anxiety: An interesting (and profitable) week going “to hell in a hand basket.”

I had a choice.  I could do what was familiar, “Standard Operating Procedure”, call out the flashing red lights of frustration, anger, and blame.  But the thing about Standard Operating Procedure is it happens REGARDLESS of what is actually needed. And usually, you don’t need it.

Were the fire engines and ambulances needed in this situation?

No. They were a waste of energy. I sent that prick of anxiety underground.

And boy was I glad. If I’d spent my energy getting mad about all the unscheduling in the week ahead, I would have felt even more exhausted when I finally crawled into my hotel bed at 2 a.m. this morning. I’d been up for 24 hours.

But this morning I woke refreshed, walked to the market for strawberries and bananas for my smoothie.  An amazing entrepreneur had contacted me last minute.  Who knows where that might lead?  And I’m meeting with a couple of interesting collaborators I never would have had time to see if my schedule had gone as planned. Next, I’ll lunch with a friend.  And I’ll have plenty of time this afternoon to prepare for my radio show with Bonnie Graham – Read My Lips.  Maybe I’ll even get to walk the sea wall on English Bay.

It’s so great to know we don’t always have to operate on Standard Operating Procedure.  We can choose to see an unscheduled landing as an invitation to have curiosity about what will come next.

Can’t wait to see what comes into my life this week in Vancouver.  I’ll let you know!

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About The Author

Elizabeth B. Crook's picture

Elizabeth B. Crook is CEO of Orchard Advisors. For over twenty years, she has worked with CEO's and entrepreneurs to think and act strategically to grow their companies' bottom line and have more overall satisfaction. She has a gift for making sense of complex situations and mapping them so creative and practical approaches emerge. Clients speak of her insight, skill, authenticity, and willingness to ask the hard questions in a gentle way. 

She is also the bestselling author of Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next. Recent media features include ForbesFast CompanyDaily WorthPBS Next AvenueThrive Global, Conscious Company, and BetterBook Club.

A mother, grandmother, and ardent hiker, she lives on Music Row in Nashville. 

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