As an observer of humanity

As an observer of humanity, I’m fascinated by some things I see.  I’m not judging here.  It’s just an observation as another human being.  This week was exceptional. 

  1. I worked with 3 different types of companies.  One software company, one service company, and one manufacturer.  I was struck by how similar the people are, even though the industries were very different.  They all are open to trying new things.  They are successful but want to get better.  The ages were a wide range, but not the way you might guess.  Each company had a wide range of ages in their teams.  It was nice to see companies working to solve the Baby Boomer retirement tsunami.
  2. Back packs on airplanes are dangerous.  I like to sit in the aisle.  I’m a little claustrophobic and sitting anywhere but the aisle causes me anxiety.  However, sitting on the aisle is challenging when most travelers are wearing backpacks instead of carrying a briefcase.  Backpacks are much easier to carry on, but when you are wearing one, and you put your suitcase in the overhead, the natural thing to do is turn your body.  That makes the backpack a weapon.  I’ve learned to lean into the middle and make friends with the individual in the center seat.  I’ve always wanted to write about this but couldn’t find the business connection, until today.  It’s focus.  People are so focused on finding a seat and storing their bag in an overhead, that they lose focus that they are beating people up with their other bags.  I can’t be upset.  I like the focus.
  3. I was driving down Lakeshore Drive in Chicago today in heavy traffic.  We were stopped at a stoplight, and I heard someone near me tapping their horn.  I looked over the lady in the car next to me motioned for me to roll down my window.  When I did, she asked if her car was on fire.  I shared that I didn’t think so.  She then asked if I saw smoke.  I assured her that I did not.  I found it humorous, and terribly unusual to get that question at a stoplight.  Have you ever had a question come out of nowhere and have it stop you on the spot when you are in a business meeting?  I’m sure I have, but nothing like that one.  It made me smile.
  4. I’m having issues with my iPhone.  The battery is apparently getting old and not lasting too long.  I was driving from my meeting to a hotel in a part of the suburbs that I had never been to.  I lost over 40 percentage points of battery on the way to the hotel and was in danger of having it shut off, therefore no GPS.  After a moment of panic, I skimmed the steps of the directions on the phone, memorized them and then shut the GPS down.  I was hopeful that if I needed the GPS to get through the final steps, I could save enough battery to get there.  It struck me how dependent I’ve become on the GPS and the phone.  Before GPS, I could find my way around.  Why would I panic when I lost it?  I did find the hotel.  It helped that is was 5 stories and nothing around it was that tall.  I need to buy another phone.  Keep calm and preplan.  My new mantra.
  5. I’m Preferred with my car rental company, that I use.  When I landed in Chicago, I received three separate texts telling me what space the car was in.  When I took the elevator to the level where my car was, the big board had my name and the same space listed.  When I jumped in the car and drove to the guard to check me out she informed me that I didn’t have the right car.  I assured her I did.  She shared that in fact, I did not.  When I returned to the rental counter, nobody was there to help.  After about 5 minutes of internal cursing the rental car company, someone showed up.  In fairness, it was not her fault.  I had the right space, but the runner had put the wrong vehicle in the space.  It was corrected, and I went on my way.  I had been in meetings all day and had not eaten since late morning.  Apparently, I burn calories.  It was 10:00 pm and I just wanted to get to the hotel.  I had an early start to the next morning.  Preplanning is a great idea.  It lowers our stress level.  But plans and reality sometimes works differently than what we had planned.  I’m not suggesting we don’t plan, but I’m suggesting we be flexible.  I still made it to my hotel and had a good night’s sleep.  It just wasn’t what I had planned, but it still worked fine. 

All in all, it was a very successful week, with a few interesting glitches.  In the past the glitches might have knocked me off course for the week.  But this time it did not.  I believe stepping back from the situation and viewing it as an observer, rather than taking it personally, allowed me to lower the stress it could have caused.  Maybe I’m maturing gracefully…  I’m still learning.

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