On a recent flight my seat partner and I actually visited. Seems that doesn’t happen much anymore, thanks to screens or ear buds. I really enjoy being able to say hello and inquire, “Are you traveling home?” I also like to chat about their business. Rarely do we get to name introductions but I find even this brief exchange can add a touch of grace to oftentimes challenging travel.
This pleasant fellow hailed from Edmonton, Canada, and was on his way home.
We exchanged the proverbial jokes about the cold winters there and the fact that September in Texas was blistering hot for him. He loved the Mexican food and “real” bar-b-q that Houston offered. A special event was going to the Astrodome to watch the Houston Astros play. In fact, he was sporting Astros gear.
“What brings you to Texas?”
He works for a company that designs and manufactures tools for oil rigs. The test rig is in Houston so he came to oversee the testing of their new tools.
“Did they work?” I asked.
His head drops and shakes, “NOT. AT. ALL.”
Surprising though was the fact that he laughed while he said it! He continued, “We’ve got a lot of work to do. I let the team know and they are on it. With a little luck, I’ll be back in Houston before Christmas to test again.”
Is this not a great response to “failure?”
Yes, he and his team were disappointed and there was big money at stake. Perspective prevailed: “better at the test rig than a customer site.” I made a note of what I wanted to remember from our conversation:
We all know the stories that are meant to teach us how to view our failures – Edison’s light bulbs and Babe Ruth’s strikeouts come to mind. I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought of those as nice stories without any real application for me. But in a brief exchange with a stranger I saw “learning to think about failure differently” play out in real time and real life. I was grateful for the lesson.
I encourage you to examine your own mindset around “failure.” Is there opportunity for you to learn a new perspective? As always, I love hearing your comments and feedback.