My travel adventures continue. Last week I was in Virginia, speaking at the National Society of Government Meeting Professionals Annual Conference.  What a blast. They sure know how to have a good time! Think ice sculptures, great food, open bar, and professional dancers from Dancing with the Stars!

I headed to the airport on Wednesday with plenty of time.  After a slew of parking and security issues (thankfully, no full body cavity searches), I had about 30-minutes before boarding my flight, surely plenty of time to grab some lunch at Schlotzsky’s, or so I thought.  Remember the good ole’ days when actual people took your order?  Now, you have to place your order on a computer that’s not terribly easy to navigate. Then, you go to wait in line for your sandwich.  There are bunch of different ordering stations so the orders were being placed faster than the ladies in the back could make them.

Now, rather than having a line of people waiting to place their order, there was an even longer line of people waiting to get their sandwiches.  Apparently a lot of the orders got confused, and it was painfully slow. While I stood waiting, now only having a few minutes before my flight was boarding, I listened as people complained, griped, and loudly voiced their frustration at the ladies making their lunch. (Side note, my first job was at Whataburger.  You do not want to mess with the people making your lunch!  Trust me.)  These ladies were working feverishly and seemed just as frustrated with the situation. They probably didn’t have the opportunity to give their input as to whether or not to automate the system, and they were doing everything they could to get the orders out as fast as possible.

It was interesting to watch so many people get upset and frustrated over this. Then, I saw a little old woman with a grin on her face. I looked at her, she winked at me and said, “Oh well, what are ya gonna do?”

What’s the difference between the people who got frustrated and the old woman who let it roll off her shoulders?  A simple choice and the wisdom of experience.

So many people spend a whole lot of their time reacting.   They react to people, they react to situations, and they let both dictate their mood and attitude.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been guilty of this more times than I care to admit.

If you’re a “reactor”, the only way to change that habit is to create a strategy ahead of time.  Here are 7 ways to get started with your strategy:

1.  What do you get from reacting?  Every behavior has a reason.  We wouldn’t keep doing the things we’re doing unless there was some payoff.  What
payoff are you getting from reacting?

2.  What is the result of reacting?  I have found that getting frustrated doesn’t increase the speed or quality of what we’re trying to accomplish.  It merely raises our blood pressure and puts us in a negative state of mind.  What result are you getting?

3.  What result do you want?  And are your current actions getting you closer or farther away from it?

4.  Make a choice.  Sometimes simply acknowledging that our current behavior isn’t working is enough to start us on the path to change.

5.  Get a mantra.  Personally, I like the little old woman’s.  “Oh well, what are ya gonna do?”

6.  Say it out loud.  Every time you start getting frustrated, say your mantra out loud.  Remember, we believe what we repeatedly tell ourselves.

7.  Observe the difference.  While it won’t happen immediately, start watching for subtle differences in how you feel. Do you get as frustrated as quickly, or are you able to take a few deep breaths and let the little things go?

I ended up boarding the flight just in time.  After two days, presenting three sessions, going to receptions, and meeting lots of great people, it was time to head home on Friday.  I boarded my return flight at 6pm.  While on the runway, the captain let us know the control tower lost power, and we would have to wait until the power returned before we could take off.

Two hours later, in a hot plane with babies crying, people were getting extremely frustrated.  I started to feel myself doing the same.  I knew I was going to miss my connecting flight, and there was only one more flight out of Dallas to Austin.  As my blood pressure started to rise, I caught myself, took a couple of deep breaths and said, “Oh well, what are ya gonna do?”

I got home around 1:30am surprisingly calm and relaxed.  I could have gotten frustrated and mad, but I wouldn’t have gotten home any sooner.  Thank you to the little old lady at Schlotzsky’s for my new mantra.


  1. Great post, Anne! I’m sorry you had traveling challenges, and am glad you found a way to cope. My air travel mantra has always been, “I’m responsible for getting to the airport on time. After that, whatever happens is out of my control.” Now, if only I can apply it to other areas of my life 😉

  2. My comment is simple, you never know why these things happen but they happen for a reason I believe. Whether to have some extra time to relax, cause you can’t change it or just maybe there is a divine meeting about to occur. When this stuff happens to me I’ m looking around to see what is the gift in this moment. Not only do you enjoy the inconvenience you accept that there is a higher purpose for the delay. Many times this has brought people together for an exchange of a comforting story or healing moment that you get to be part of. So, next time you get stopped in your tracks look around. Just maybe there is something or someone you are about to have a divine appointment with.

    • Hi Christine,

      It’s a great way to look at it. When I’m running late, I often tell myself there’s a reason I shouldn’t be on that road at that time. I like your philosophy and appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  3. Hi Anne. These past couple of months have been so tough for me that I’ve been looking for the positive outcomes that could come out of all the challenges to help me deal with everthing and so far it has been working.

    • Hi Juan,

      I’m sorry to hear the past couple of months have been so difficult. Looking for the positive is certainly the way to go. Change is constant and this too shall pass. Keep your chin up 🙂

  4. Thanks for the post, Anne. Travel has never been a favorite activity of mine, mainly due to the lack of control. It takes a great deal of trust to travel and I think we can easily forget that. Even traveling for fun, as my wife and I will do tomorrow, isn’t always fun. I will certainly remember this post as we embark to the tropics. It no doubt will improve our vacation and for that I am grateful to you and for the wisdom you share.

  5. Although I agree with the jist of your message (getting upset isn’t going to make the situation any better), I disagree with just accepting change as “normal”. Normal is what we are willing to accept as acceptible/normal and we as consumers and a civilized population don’t have to “accept” everything. Many of the things that we find as “normal” nowadays, our parents and grandparents would have found as a diservice and appalling in their day. And in reality, how much better off are we today than in their day? Our government is tightening it’s grips on us (for the betterment of our great nation so they think) as crime and the financial industry spiral out of control. Change is not always for the better. Some things are better off left to the old fashioned way of doing.

    • Hi Christian,

      First, thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t think we have to “accept” everything, but whether we like it or not, things are going to change…that’s just life. I don’t believe we should settle for less, but I also don’t believe that things are as gloom and doom as we might always think. Overall, much has changed for the better from our parents and grandparents generation. It’s easy to get sucked into the negativity, but remember, we find what we look for. Yes, the government is screwed up, yes, our financial indistry has spiraled out of control, but that is just part of the cycle. Life is what WE make it. At least, that’s my 2 cents.

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