In my 18 years of being a travel warrior and 9 years of being a flight attendant, I’ve been through it ALL.
I’ll tell you this, traveling well goes back to owning it, getting resourceful, and finding a way to spin it positively to yourself.
I’ve witnessed incredible attitudes and cheerful smiles in the middle of delays, tarmac shenanigans, plane break downs, etc. I’m always inspired and appreciative of people’s flexibility.
So….What the hello is extreme ownership you ask?
I first heard the term “Extreme Ownership” on podcast episode 521 of the “The Art of Charm”.
The Host, Jordan Harbinger, interviews author and Navy Seal, Jocko Willink on his book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.“
“When making a decision, worrying about variables that can’t be controlled is a waste of time. A better outcome is likely if we learn to focus that wasted effort on factors that can be controlled.”
But, I remember wrapping my head around the same concept when listening to my old school self-help tapes, “The Psychology of Achievement” with Brian Tracy 15+ years ago.
He preached the same self-empowering idea of finding a way to take ownership over whatever has and is going on in your life.
I think about this concept a lot and try and apply it in all aspects of my life but find it especially helpful in the realm of travel.
Finding travel solutions through ownership of the situation.
I face travel setbacks every day at work. I commute by plane to work and all by standby. Meaning I don’t make it to and from work unless there are seats available.
It can be very hard but I try and keep perspective when flights are overbooked, delayed, or canceled.
It’s me that choose this job, I LOVE this job, I’ve worked so many years and so hard to secure a part time position that allows me to be home 85% of the time yet give my family a unique traveling lifestyle.
I’m so grateful for my job and all that it has afforded us over the years. I partially credit all that I have to it. Being a Flight Attendant is so much more than a job.
In 2009-2010 I was able to fly standby back and forth to Paris from Salt Lake City 11 times in 17 months when my now husband, Alex was offered a job cooking in the “Le Jules Verne” in the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. It allowed us to keep our relationship going long distance.
I find remembering these reasons extremely empowering.
It shifts the focus from,
“How can I stew and pout about this?” (which I’ve definitely done)
“How can I start putting out fires.”
When I’ve firmly slapped myself out of trying to place the blame outside of myself, then I’m in control and it’s time to get resourceful.
Can I throw emergency money at the problem?
-Buy a last minute ticket on another airline from our emergency fund.
-Rent a car and drive?
-Train or bus?
Can I throw soothers at the problem?
Food, alcohol, Facebook, YouTube, new book?
4 hour delay? Guess who’s getting nacho cheese bugles, mentos, and Facebooking to her hearts content….this girl.
Can I sleep?
Yes, I’m most definitely always in need of more sleep.
We can only control our reactions to travel situations.
But, What about when I’m traveling with other people? I can’t control how they feel.
No, but by taking extreme ownership, you can control how you react.
Let me tell you a story….
My husband and I had just landed in Paris after 2 flights totaling 16 hours travel time with our 3 kids 4, 2 1/2, and 7 months.
But, we had another 6.5 hours to kill in the train terminal.
Playing, sleeping, shooting the breeze with interesting people, eating, breaking out little surprises at just the right moments.
As the time for our train finally arrived we had a problem. Our girls, through their play, had been lovingly integrating themselves with the floor of the station.
Their hands and sleeves black with dirt.
As a busy mama, I’m quite flexible with the filth that life with littles brings. I would have baby wiped and hand sanitized that down.
My husband sometimes short circuits with situations like this.
He decided to go properly scrub their hands. Except it costs .70 euro to go into the restrooms.
ATM, convenience store for a change, bathroom, finally he came back with our clean daughters but we’re pushing it close to departure time.
I remind him the elevators are ridiculous and we’ve got to hustle.
That’s when it starts to get crazy.
First elevator: full, second: full.
Ahhh!!!!! Can we race down the stairs strollers, bags, babies???
No, thank heavens, an elevator arrives half full. We squeeze our panicked selves in but our 4-year-old goes flying into the wall in the chaos. I’m crying as I see the fear and anxiety in her face.
She’s telling us what we tell her. Calm down, take a deep breath.
I love her so much in this moment I about break open.
We finally get out of the train to realize we took the wrong elevator.
We look across the tracks and woefully watch our train pull away and imagine how disappointed Mamie and Papie will be on the receiving end in Nantes.
Devastation. The weight of the day crashes on us.
I’m angry, furious. I search for who to blame. France? for pay toilets and terrible elevator service? My kids for being kids? My husband? for being such a stickler, for not double checking the signage? I looked into his watery bloodshot eyes I could see he was wondering what my reaction would be too. I looked at my babies all looking at me, each one eye asking how they should feel?
Deep breath. Two paths.
It would feel so good to let the anger out, to yell, scream, tell my husband he’s an idiot, ahhhhhh
But I’ve learned,
What does that solve? Absolutely nothing. It feels good for like a second.
Another deep breath.
I let the anger burn in my chest, I feel it, recognize it, let it be there, and say in a loud voice “yes, ok this sucks but what are we going to do about it?”
We went back up to the train station and started putting out fires.
Another train 4 hours later. Win. Better than overnighting in Paris.
Hugs, kisses, reassurance that everything is going to be alright.
And you know what it was.
BTW: as I write this I’m stuck in an airport….on standby….trying to get home….and it’s totally my fault 😉