I mentioned on Friday that I have been listening to Linchpin, by Seth Godin on my iPhone.  This morning I was listening  while I was out for a run and heard a story that fit in with my airport story from yesterday.

I mentioned that I made a decision prior to walking into the airport that I was not going to stress, I was not going to do anything except go where they told me to go.  (practicing the discipline of submission).  I made a comment in that post where I said, had I stressed out I don’t think we would have gotten home any faster.  Well, the more I thought about it, stressing out, if anything would have likely cost me more than I first thought.

A couple things.  Despite what ever gifts or skills I think I might have, the ability to make planes take off on time is not one of them.  No matter how hard I try, I have never been able to get an airline to schedule an extra flight, or take off in the middle of a snow storm.  And I’ve tried.  (FYI, remember the Jet Blue fiasco from Valentine’s day weekend a few years ago?  Liz & I were stranded @ JFK in the middle of that, although thankfully in the airport instead of stuck on a plane.)

So, I have no power to make planes take off.

I was also reminded about a job I used to have in Albany.  For about 5 years I worked the customer service desk at a grocery store.  As you might imagine, there are a fair number of people who come to that desk because some experience at the store has made them angry enough that they decide to come & yell at some guy with absolutely no authority to change anything.  Okay, very limited authority.  Quick quiz, who do you think I was more likely to go out of my way to help? A person who was speaking civilly to me and asking for a resolution, or a person who decided that screaming at me was cheaper than going to anger management.

So, would I expect that going up and expressing all of my traveling frustrations to a person working at a desk, who, like me, has absolutely no authority to make planes take off, is going to get them to go out of their way to help me?

Then this question hit me…when do you do your best thinking?  When you are stressed and angry…when you feel like the whole world is out to get you?  Or do you do your best thinking when you are relaxed?  Quiet.  Feeling a real sense of peace with how things are.

And so the benefit of acting like that when things aren’t going my way is…hmm.  (let me know if you think of any)

Which brings me to Godin’s book Linchpin.  As I was listening this morning, he told a story of Richard Branson (Virgin).  Branson was in the Caribbean about 40 years, got to the airport and found out that his flight, the only one leaving that day had been canceled.  Rather than complaining about how this ruined his day, or how important it was for him to get home, Branson walked over to a part of the airport where the charter planes were.  He found out how much it would cost to charter the plane, went back to where his fellow passengers were with a sign that read, fly to the Virgin Islands today, $39.  He sold every seat on the plane, and was on his way.

Rather than stressing (or freaking out), by staying calm, his creative juices got flowing and he came up with a solution that benefited himself, other passengers, and likely planted a seed for Virgin Airlines.

Have you ever wondered about what you’ve missed out on, when you’ve allowed yourself to spend time getting worked up over things you can do nothing about?