Wednesday, June 30, 2010

6 Up in the Air Life and Leadership Lessons

During the past few months, I have been "up in the air" almost every other week. I've been in airports, on airplanes and interacting with fellow airline passengers and airline employees due to business and personal travel. It's amazing what being "up in the air" teaches me about life and leadership. Rather than tuning out familiar phrases I heard on a recent flight, I wrote them down.

1) There are rear and window exits, during an emergency, lights will illuminate to show you the way out.
There can be many solutions to a problem but usually one or two good answers will rise to the top. Don't over-analyze people, processes or plans. Sometimes the answers are simple. When the lights illuminate let go and let God.

2) Fasten your seatbelt...especially during take-off and landing.
Take-off and landing are calculated risks. So plan and prepare for emergencies by doing your part. Just buckle your seatbelt tight and low. Things sometimes go wrong, the unexpected may happen. There's no need to panic if the take-off or landing is a little bumpy. Believe that you are buckled in and ready for turbulence should it occur. Once you're airborne, trust and enjoy the journey.

3) In case of a water landing, use the seat cushion. It's a flotation device.
Many times the resources we need are already around us, we just have to know where to look and understand how to use them. Make sure you have a strong support system. Don't be afraid to ask others for help when you need it. Talk out solutions with a few trusted advisors or a mentor. If you remain without the answers or clarity, maybe you just need to float awhile by giving it to God. Don't let pride or ego get in the way. Go ahead float awhile.

4) Put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others.
Exercise, rest, eat right and be present. It's tough to lead when your body is tired, you have poor eating habits and your mind is overloaded. If you do not take care of your body, it is difficult, if not impossible for you to have a meaninigful impact in your work or in someone else's life. Balance your drive and intensity with self-care. Practice self-care relentlessly. Just move your body daily and breathe intentionally.

5) Be careful when opening the overhead bin. Items placed in the overhead bin may have shifted during flight.
During the journey, change happens. People change. Situations shift. Our responsibilities and priorities change or may be changed by others around us. When things tumble out from the overhead bin, remain calm, use discernment and catch them. Sometimes a good bump on the head wakes us up.

6) You never know who will sit next to you on the flight.
Whether it's people on your team or life circumstances, you cannot control what goes on around you but you can control how you react to it. Don't judge people by external characteristics such as attire or ethnicity. God puts us in certain situations for a reason, we may not always understand the reason. Make every effort to learn all you can from the individual or the situation.

Stephen Covey says, "Every human being has four endowments: self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination." I hope you use them all in your travels through life. How do these familiar phrases apply to you? Do you have others to share? I'd love your comments below...