Sometimes, you never know how really good you have it until you are awakened to someone else’s problems that are much, much worse than yours. click here to ready more about this topic.
Traveling on business you get to come in contact with a wide range of people that you would not normally come into contact with. In this case, there was a couple sitting next to me in the gate waiting area at O’Hare. They were traveling to see their grandparents and were bringing along their infant. As they explained, this was the first time that they had gone out of state, let alone left the house since their infant was born last October. You see, they explained, their child was born with a great many birth defects and it was only now that the infant was not hooked up to a machine of one kind or another. What a beautiful baby to have so many problems lay ahead of him. It could really break your heart. The couple, however, were cool and so very competent that you had to marvel at their excitement to make such a trip albeit with more than the usual difficulties.
And so my fear of flying was quickly put into perspective. Here was a child that had beaten all the odds and survived some very serious pre-birth and after birth medical conditions and this couple put all that aside to bring this child to his great grandparents who could no longer travel themselves. More than a dozen operations were done on this tiny baby who survived each one only to face another hurdle and I am whining about my fear (a very real fear) of flying. As they explained their journey to me, this couple really made me realize that my burdens are really not too much to bear, and theirs…well, one could only admire their grit and determination that their baby should live as normal a life as medical science can now make possible. I could just tell that this was to be a very happy homecoming for the three of them and that because of their positive and can-do attitude, their baby will be in the best of hands.
So we all know that I hate flying but sometimes you just have to do it for business. Last week, I had occasion to sit next to someone that really knew about internet marketing. (I told this person I would give them a link on my blog.) The topic came up because I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation this person was having with a client who was just so enthusiastic, that I could hear everything the person on the line was saying.
Apparently, the person next to me on the flight was working on this clients’ site and was getting them phone calls that they hadn’t been able to get from their online marketing efforts in the past. Why is this important? For one reason, you just never know who will be sitting next to you on a plane that might have an idea or a service that you can you. In my business, I need help with online marketing. Right next to me, was someone who apparently knew what they were doing. Most times, one would be suspect of this kind of “set up”. I mean, to get a phone call before the plane takes off that is this effusive would set my “bs” antennae to high alert. But this person didn’t know who they would be sitting next to. It could have been a kid. (Children in first class. Now there is a topic for another post.)
So we struck up a conversation and I found out more about how the internet works in the 90 minute flight than all the consultants our company has paid for in the past 3 years could ever tell us. I now understand how all the facets of ecommerce fit together in ways that I could never have dreamed. There is something about being stuck on a plane for a while that engenders full attention and concentration. If you are learning something, you just don’t want to stop. Further, and good for me, I wasn’t anxious about the flight at all because this conversation was so distracting. I’m sure that’s why airlines put in-flight movies on in the first place – to distract and entertain. But this was even better. It moved my business forward in more ways than just miles earned.
So I flew on Southwest Airlines over the weekend for the first time for a friend’s wedding. (It was not possible to drive that far and get back in time for work Monday morning.) When the flight attendant started reciting the safety features lecture I was surprised because it was actually funny. Who knew that that you could actually make light of something so serious. I first thought that the purpose of the humor was to get people to actually pay attention to the content of the message instead of ignoring it and reading or sleeping or whatever. The person next to me told me that this happens quite a lot on Southwest, they really do want their employees to wing it – so to speak. Just so the information is in there, they don’t really care how it is delivered. Which got me to thinking why would they let them do it, doesn’t it hurt the brand?
One side benefit of all the humor is that, for people like me that hate flying, it is a nice distraction from the anxiety that builds up to take off. I mean, all the seriousness of the safety features and the oxygen masks, seat belts, how to open a window and find the exits if the plane fills with smoke, those are pretty sobering thoughts. And not all that comforting. So interjecting some humor in the whole thing not only serves to get people to listen (how many times some people have heard the lecture must be mind-boggling), but also gets them to relax a bit before takeoff. Now if they could only extend their humor to turbulence, that would be a real help for me because that is the very worst of the whole flight. And lately, I don’t know of too many people that have commented on how smooth their flight was.
This is the topic of another conversation, but Southwest Airlines must be pretty confident in their employees to let them go “off scrip” and entertain. Might not be a bad place to work…in a desk job!
My name is Mike and this is my blog. I decided to confront my fears head on and begin to blog about them. Perhaps by writing about them, I might have a chance to overcome them and maybe, just maybe, not be so afraid of them anymore. Although I am an adult, I sometimes think that my fears are irrational when compared with my friends’ and family’s fears. Sometimes, we just can’t get ahead of things that truly scare us and since I have tried everything else, I hope that this blog will serve to help me, and help you, confront the scariest.