Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Preconceived Outcomes:
Are you setting yourself up for self-fulfilling prophesy?

When I travel, I tend to leave a day in advance. I book flights with at least two hours of connecting time between them.  That way if my first flight is delayed, I still have the opportunity to catch the connecting flight.

I rarely have to rush through airports or get annoyed by the inevitable delays associated with travel.

I try to take the first flight out, since the plane is almost always there from the night before and I have my breakfast in the airport lounge. 

I give myself loads of time to get to the gate giving me just enough time to people watch or read.

A few days ago, I got to my gate early and sat down. The woman next to me immediately began to chat me up.

She was pleasant and like me on a business trip. Our plane arrived and an old travel buddy came off the plane. We spotted each other and acted like kids on the playground.

“I was thinking about you last week.” I told her. We exchanged hugs, good wishes and enquired about each other’s children. (Hers were of the four legged variety.)

I learned that she had had to put one of her babies down and we hugged again. She was off to her next flight and I felt warmed to remember that even in the airport, I have close friends.

The woman I had just met, commented how special that was and how she had moved away from family but had not really connected since then.

Just as she said this, the gate agent announced that we had to move to another gate. The woman sighed and said, “It’s always something.”

I smiled and we walked to the new gate. Once there, our pilot made an announcement informing us that the original plane had a maintenance issue and would take 4 hours to fix, but that he’d called and got a new plane so we'd be leaving about a half hour late but would land only 15 minutes later than the scheduled arrival.

I smiled and my new travel buddy asked why. I told her that my friend had been on that original plane, but it had landed safely. I went on to say that the delay could have been much worse, but all we had to do was walk to another gate.

She stared at me and said, “I like your outlook. I wish I could be more like that, but my job has given me a team of young folks who have never done this work and a big assignment that’s very important.

I smiled again and again she asked why. I told her that the young newbies all had something to prove. They were fresh and excited and ready to work for her. She frowned and began to sweat and said, but they don’t know anything.

I told her that they knew plenty. They had degrees that were fresher than hers and new eyes on an old problem. I informed her that her team had no expectations or preconceived notions about how difficult or as she had put it, “impossible” the job was, so they would be eager, unless…

I paused and allowed her to ask the question and when she did, I told her.

“Unless you go in with a preconceived outcome before you even start. Unless you decide that your team is not worthy of your respect and unless you really do believe that you are all alone.”

Then she smiled and said that she had sat down in the right seat.

What have you already decided?

How can you reframe your thinking?

How can you turn quick encounters into meaningful exchanges?

Be you, be well, be conceived.
Bertice Berry, PhD.