Recently, my family and I went away for a much-anticipated holiday. We had booked this holiday in the second half of last year, deciding to stay fairly local…only 2 hours’ drive… so there would be some chance of our holiday going ahead despite the impacts of Covid-19 and related restrictions.
We kept our fingers crossed for months. Over Christmas, we returned to lockdown and our holiday looked unlikely to go ahead. Lucky us, lockdown was lifted and we were able to go away. The objective was rest and relaxation after a big year. Lots of fresh air, visiting neighbouring beaches, a few picnics in the beautiful countryside, visiting the regional produce markets. Getting away from it all.
And it started off beautifully for the first hour or so. Then while we were still driving to our holiday get-a-way, we encountered a fairly significant problem. A big problem with our car.
We safely made it to our destination. We had a beautiful place to stay. We were really comfortable. We could walk to the local small village of shops and down the hill to the local beach. That was all. Everything else was a distance away. We had already realised we were not going to be able to drive our car until it was repaired.
The best laid plans of visiting some beaches that were further away, of going to some lookouts, of checking out some other towns and markets further away were just gone. There was just nothing we could do, which, to be honest, was disappointing because we had been looking forward to this trip for about five months.
We found a mechanic and dropped our car off in the next town over on the second day of our week-long holiday.
So now what?
Rather than catching the train and then walking from the train station back to where we were staying, we decided to make our return trip to our accommodation into an adventure. We would do the coastal walk between the two towns.
Now for those with teenagers, you will know that offering a 16km walk as a great holiday idea could present a challenge. Yet the whole family agreed, and we set off mid-morning. It was amazing.
It was very up and down. It was rough. It was a challenge physically. It was just a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cold. It was incredibly green and lush where we were walking through the hills. The coastline was magnificent. It was an amazing experience. And to be able to do something like that with your family is a wonderful thing. It had not been the plan, so we adjusted our plan based on the change in circumstances.
We took the opportunity.
We were carless for the rest of the holiday, so we did a lot more walking. We saw a few of the things that we had planned to, though not even half. We had to change direction a little bit. We explored a little closer to where we were staying and went to just one beach rather than multiple beaches.
The thing that was most interesting to me, and I think it’s kind of a metaphor for what’s happened over the last year, is that this situation was completely out of our control. The car being broken was not something we had planned on. And so we had to change most things about the way that we were going to do our holiday. And we did.
And as we were driving home with a repaired car, on reflection, when we asked each other ‘what was the most enjoyable part of the holiday?’, everybody said the huge walk from the mechanic’s back to our accommodation. That had been the highlight. The unplanned opportunity.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because stuff happens. There are circumstances beyond our immediate control.
You can worry over what is out of your control …and increase your stress levels. Or you can focus on what is within your control and use your energy here.
What is within your control?
👉 choosing how you react and respond to the situation
👉 being flexible
👉 choosing how you adapt to the change in circumstances or situation
👉 looking for options
👉 using your strengths
👉 seeking opportunity
Yes, we had a problem. We could have dwelt on the problem. Instead, we found a different way, a different opportunity. Not only that, instead of being something that we had to do, it became a choice we made…. to complete that long walk. And it became the highlight of our whole week.
So, my encouragement to you is this. As we all continue to work through circumstances that are beyond our control and the ramifications and consequences of a fast-changing world that is still responding to the pandemic, and also to the fact that the world of work has changed, the way that we use technology has changed, the way that we work in teams has changed, recognise that it will not be perfect. And that is okay.
Then challenge yourself to be flexible, to look for the opportunity, to adapt, to use your strengths, to make good choices where you can.
This is far better for you than waiting for everything to be the way that you want it to be or hoping that it will change back to the way it was, because that simply isn’t going to happen. You have so much power to create the outcomes that will make a difference. Consider how you can use that power for yourself, your team and your organisation.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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