Actually, things rarely go according to plan.
Take today, for instance. Take this very post. I had planned to re-launch my blog today after months of inactivity. I had temporarily suspended active posting while I re-vamped my website and created a raft of new content ready for regular publication. Planning, writing, designing, building – for a few months I was wrapped up in creating this new space.
Then today, on the Ides of September, I went to publish a blog post. This would be the first blog post on my snazzy new site with my solid new editorial calendar. It was going to be so very, very satisfying. I went into the file where I stash all my writing, eager to copy and paste my message onto your screen and into your eyeballs. Excelsior!
Problem: the file wouldn’t open. I got a cryptic error message. After panicking and slamming a few buttons at random, restarting and updating my computer, and generally trying every trick I could think of, I had to admit that I would simply have to wait until the Person Who Knows Computers is available to try tomorrow. The file is still there, the data is still in it. It just won’t let me in. And today’s post is not the only post in that file; no, I have several months worth of writing in there. Thousands of words, trapped and crying for release. My little goslings, stuck behind some bizarre error message that is beyond my ability to solve.
Today did not go according to plan.
That’s the way of the world. Files can’t get opened, microphones don’t work, slide presentations crash the moment you try to open it before starting your presentation.
There is no reason, though to fear this. Having to rapidly change plans on the spot can unleash a wonderful torrent of creative problem solving and teach us flexibility. Sometimes these situations give us outcomes that leave us grinning and saying “Remember that time when…and we totally nailed it anyway?”
Take, for instance, the time when my three hour workshop was interrupted by two hours of jackhammering (literally, concrete floors being jackhammered) in the room adjacent to mine. My microphone couldn’t overcome the noise and there was nowhere to run to. I had the 35 participants help me reconfigure the room so that their tables and laptops were circled around me, I changed the demo to a hands-on learning session, and I belted my voice for all it was worth. I may have lost my voice for two days afterwards, but they learned what they needed to learn and kept congratulating me afterwards on being able to pull off the workshop despite the incredible din from next door. “I can’t believe you pulled that off!” It was some of the most satisfying feedback I’ve ever received.
So my file won’t open and my blog posts are temporarily trapped in some sort of digital limbo. It doesn’t matter. Today was the day I was planning to resume posting, and so I shall anyway. And that is precisely what you’ll do too, the next time something goes wrong: you’ll carry on and figure it out on the fly. You didn’t really need those slides to give that presentation. The microphone may not have worked, but that gave you permission to walk straight into your audience and speak to them at arm’s length instead of from the isolation of the stage. You’ll adapt, you’ll go with the flow, and you’ll do more than just survive – you’ll shine.
And eventually, you’ll get to read some of those trapped posts of mine….