Recently, I traveled to the mountainous region of northern New Mexico to deliver a business writing course for a client. I never know what I’m going to find when I arrive at my destination so I have adopted the philosophy of hope for the best, and adapt for the worst. This week I got to put that to the test.
The first hint that something wasn’t quite right was when I walked in to the office and overheard the admin on the phone talking about the class that was to start in 20 minutes. She hung up the phone with a look of panic on her face and said ‘We didn’t send out the flyers! No one knows about the training!” As she scrambled to call people to get them to come to the class one of the other staff members led me out to the training room.
When I say ‘led me out’, I mean literally led me out to a building in the back of the property that was currently being used for storage. It turns out that in addition to the flyers not getting sent out, the training room reservation form never made its way to the appropriate department and we didn’t have a room to use. While the admin worked on finding people to attend the session, the maintenance guy and I carved out a space among stacks of extra tables and chairs, excess computers and monitors, reams of paper and other miscellaneous supplies and equipment that had been relegated to the makeshift training room.
No problem. We set up a few tables, dug out a whiteboard from behind the piles and I was ready to go. While I was waiting (hoping) for people to arrive, the maintenance guy gave me some recommendations for good places to eat.
We finally got going about an hour late with only a couple of participants. But they were enthusiastic and ready to learn, exactly the kind you hope for. Because of the small size, I was able to dig in and help them with their specific needs and they received a great day of training.
My client was thrilled that I remained calm and flexible and adapted to the situation. I have seen speakers and trainers freak out when everything isn’t perfect. When they can’t adapt to the unexpected it sets the wrong tone for the day – for them and the audience.
Because I didn’t get stressed out and let the unexpected events ruin my day, after the training I enjoyed a scenic drive through the mountains back to Durango CO where I was flying out of the next day. On the way there I stopped at a little hole in the wall restaurant in a quaint mountain town for some excellent fish tacos. A place I wouldn’t have stopped at if it wasn’t for the recommendation.
The next time things don’t work out as expected for you, take a deep breath, do your best, and enjoy the ride.