Turbo Leadership Systems

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September 16, 2008 Issue 191 To our clients and friends

I watched with detachment as another passenger joined us up in first class on our 5-hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver, B.C. This mid 50's woman's black tights, flashy turquoise and green jacket, unkempt, short, very dark brown hair made her hard to miss. Her masculine features made me take a second look to see if she was in fact a woman.

Then I noticed a couple of mechanics with flashlights looking into the forward washroom and the captain's cabin. Their persistent probing and baffled looks started to worry me a little. It was past time for us to push back from the gate and there was still no announcement.

A few minutes later the captain announced, "We haven't closed the door and pushed back from the terminal because we are having some mechanical difficulties". The problem was with the smoke detector in the forward restroom. If they couldn't repair it, we might stay on the aircraft and only have use of the restrooms in the rear of the aircraft. A moment later he announced that there were some problems with the entertainment system and we may end up needing to change aircraft. The lady I noticed earlier let out a loud "Oh no!" for everyone in first class to hear. A few minutes later the captain came back with a second notice, saying, "We will in fact be deplaning, walking from gate 42 to gate 34, and board a new aircraft. At this point the objections of the curious lady were louder than ever, insisting that they couldn't do this to her, no one understood what her day had been like, what she had been through flying from Jamaica, and mumbling about poor customer service. By now it was midnight. Instead of getting four hours sleep on my short layover in Vancouver B.C., it looked like I might, if lucky, get three hours before flying on to Portland at 7:20 a.m.

I was detached as I watched this all play out. I reflected on how I have behaved under similar circumstances at times in my life, knowing that there have been times when I've railed out against the unchangeable. What a waste of energy. No matter how much she objected, the best that could happen was that she was going to deplane and go down to gate 34 and replane with the rest of us. The worst that could happen is that the steward could ask her to wait until tomorrow when she was more rational or seek another carrier.

The path to peace of mind is learning to accept "what is". It is only in accepting what is that we can change what "will be". After we have accepted "what is", we can, as appropriate, decide what to do next. There's always something to do next. I can tell you I did not waste a moment's energy on objecting because that is what it would have been a waste of energy. The facts are this airplane is not serviceable, though it seems a little silly to take a plane out of service because the smoke detector in the bathroom isn't working. It's obviously an FAA regulation for our protection. I sometimes enjoy watching a late night movie on this long flight. I certainly could get by without the movie. My preference was to arrive in Vancouver at 1:00 versus 2:30. The irrational lady did help me reflect on my life and notice how I've grown in this area of attitude control. Being a thermostat, not a thermometer.

How about you? How are you doing with attitude control? Have you developed the ability to accept "what is", knowing that it is only after accepting "what is" that you can change "what will be"?

"Two things a man should never be angry at: what he can help, and what he cannot help."
Thomas Fuller