I love what I do. I love speaking, teaching and training. I love meeting new people and watching them reach their potential with just a few small tweaks to their communication skills. Put me in a room in any American city and I will be in my element. Getting there, however, is another matter altogether.
Anyone who’s ever been a speaker has said the same thing all of the time; “I speak for free, they pay me to travel.” I used to hear this and just assume the person telling me the story had just gotten soft, but the more I do it the more I understand. It’s a grind and it wears even strong people out. It’s especially true when you have a week like the one I’ve just had. A week that I’ve dubbed the week from hell. Let me tell you about it.
Training in one of my favorite hotels in Columbus Ohio, when an accident on the interstate put the power out in the entire area. It left me leading 30 people in the pitch black morning through introductions and strong communication skills to the lobby where the hotel set up some tables.
After training all day in Ft. Wayne Indiana, I made my way to the airport to fly on to the next leg of my swing; Little Rock Arkansas via Chicago O’Hare. The only problem was the weather had everything delayed coming into Chicago and while planes could take off, they couldn’t land. I was to hours late getting into O’Hare and two hours late leaving which put me in Little Rock at 12:30 am. Of course, the only rental car available was a micro-machine that no one had cleaned with bad brakes. Well, either that or a 15 passenger van. I took the micro-machine and made my way to my hotel.
On limited sleep, I trained Communication and Leadership skills in front of a member of the corporate training team. As gracious as he was, it’s always nerve-wracking when you know you’re being evaluated. I made it through, but unfortunately, no one had stolen my micro-machine so I had to drive it 2 hours to Jonesboro.
There had been a lot of discussion on Wednesday about moving my seminar on Thursday because of hotel difficulty. It seems that the hotel where the seminar is located doesn’t set up the room. My schedulers tried to move it but found every hotel booked leaving us no choice.
When I got to the hotel, I really couldn’t believe it could get worse at that point, but it did. A filthy room with dirt on the floor and a refrigerator that wasn’t plugged in was just the start of it. The dirty washcloth on the shower curtain left me with no choice but to laugh out loud.
Seminar attendees don’t expect much out of a room but they appreciate it when it’s clean. This room, at the world’s dirtiest hotel, was anything but clean. We powered through – all seven of us but we all knew the hotel left a lot to be desired. I left that day and drove three hours to make my first visit to Cape Girardeau MO.
My hotel in Cape Girardeau was amazing. It was modern and clean and all three of my seminar attendees, yes, only three, enjoyed themselves. When we finished, I drove my micro-machine to St. Louis where I was returning my car and taking the hotel shuttle back for the night to fly out early Saturday.
When the rental car employees heard me out about my car problems, they agreed to take me to my hotel. It was a half mile up the road to the Marriot and I appreciated the gesture. The problem, though, was that it was the wrong hotel and after a phone call and a wait, the right hotel sent their shuttle to get me.
This was the day I had looked forward to all week. Going Home! I didn’t even mind the 6:00 am flight or the 4:30 wake up. I wanted to get home. So imagine my frustration when 15 minutes after takeoff, we had to return to the gate because the plane had hit a bird! Sitting on the runway, I received the text message I would miss my connection at 8:00 and would have to take the 1:15 from Chicago to Dayton.
This week should have been the trip from hell. But it wasn’t.
Early in the week, I had stumbled onto a Tony Robbins quote: “What if life doesn’t happen to us, but instead, happens for us?” It truly shifted my perspective.
Yeah, having the power went out wasn’t ideal, but it forced me to get clear with my voice. I would have loved to get to Little Rock on time, but sitting in Ft. Wayne, I finished a writing project as well as the book that I’d been reading. If I were on time, that wouldn’t have happened.
The dirty micromachine helped me appreciate the truck that I get to drive when I’m home. Having a trainer observe me helped me focus harder and prepare better. The dirty hotel Wednesday made the one I stayed in Thursday feel like a palace. Training for three people allowed us to go really deep on a few issues and tackle some big ideas.
Getting dropped at the wrong hotel allowed me to meet two great drivers. One from Kenya and one from Mexico who are both busting their tails for a better life. Turning a plane around is better than blowing up and sitting at O’hare this afternoon gives me time to write all about.
None of these things happened to me. They happened for me. They made me better, more patient, more productive and more appreciative. It was a week from hell and I spent it doing what I love. It was a little quote that shifted my perspective big time. Try it for yourself because no matter how awful it seems, trust me when I say, it could always be worse.