If you've never missed a flight, you likely spend a lot of time in airports. That would be me.
I am a pretty seasoned business traveler. I get there early, rarely check my bags and I know the rules to follow to get through security with ease.
But last week, I learned more business lessons in one (almost) missed connection back home.
I just finished training with one of my second-stage businesses on hardwiring and had lots of time to spare to make my first flight out of a small airport in Tennessee. I knew that my 35-minute layover in Atlanta back home to Michigan would have been a challenge but it was important that I get home that evening.
You see, my nephew, (who is also my Godson) was having their wedding shower the next morning. I also needed to drive four hours the next morning to get there.
If you've never been to the Atlanta Airport, it is now the world's largest and busiest airport. Here's where it gets interesting.
My connection flight back home was scheduled to take off at 8:30 pm We landed at 7:55 pm so I thought I had plenty of time to make my way across the airport. However, by the time the flight got to the gate, it's about 8:05 pm
We all huddled in the jet bridge anxiously looking at our phones on the time waiting for our carryon's to be unloaded. It was a small plane so we had to check our carry-on's plane side.
You could tell by the frequent glances at their phones just how many other passengers had to catch their connections. Finally, it's around 8:12 pm, and boarding began for my connection 15 minutes ago. Just then, I see my bag, snatch it and look for the monitor to confirm my gate assignment.
One quick look around and I realized I was in Terminal C. My connection is in Terminal A.
Once I descended from the jet bridge, I had to navigate the long escalator to catch the people mover to the next terminal. Rather than waiting for the escalator to take me down, I started to quickly move down the escalator until I ran into a group of people.
Noticing my urgent need to move ahead, one nice man stepped aside so I could continue walking down the escalator stairs. However, I was quickly stopped by a flood of other passengers on the escalator in front of me.
Business Lesson 1: Even with your best laid plans, there will be barriers to moving ahead. Practice patience.
As we both seen seeing I could not move ahead, I just waited. I finally got to the platform to witness the people mover's doors close.
Ugh! Time is ticking. It's now about 8:15 pm
I looked down the long hallway, looked to my right and not aware a pilot to my right. I thought to myself, would it be faster if I run to the next terminal or wait for the people mover?
Figuring the pilot likely navigates the airport frequently, I asked him if he knew how long until the next train would be there.
“In the next couple of seconds,” he replied. We exchanged pleasantries and he assured me I would make my flight. Sure enough, the next people mover arrived and I hopped on.
Business Lesson 2: Ask your resources for help in solving problems.
It's now about 8:20 pm and I'm making my way from Terminal C to Terminal A. Every second counted. The doors on the people mover opened to Terminal B. The doors closed and there's a pause at Terminal B. It seemed like an eternity before it took off again.
The recorded voice calmly announces Terminal A.
Finally! Terminal A.
Before the doors were fully opened, I scurried off and see the escalators again to go up to the gates.
Just then two teenagers cut in front of me and scaled the empty escalator steps to the top. Seeing that I could save some time by doing the same thing, I put my glasses around my neck, had my purse draped across my body, picked up my carry on and started to hop two steps at a time up the escalator stairs. While almost to the top I realized just how hard I was breathing. In that moment, I was so thankful I had started working out weeks earlier.
Business Lesson 3: You must serve yourself first in order to sustain serve others. Business leaders often serve themselves last, making exercising their last priority. It's important to take time to be a fit leader for the times you need to rely on a little extra energy to get through the challenging times.
Just as I get to the top of the escalator and think, “Great! I'm in Terminal A!” Now for Gate 34.
I turn the corner to see … Gate 19.
Breathing rather heavier than scaling the escalator stairs, I looked down the hallway and said loudly, “Seriously !?”
Immediately, I got into action. I put the wheels down on my carry on and began jogging down the hallway navigating the other travelers.
While jogging in a suit, dress shoes, and my carry on trailing on the side, it occurred to me I had hung my glasses around my neck so I touched them to see if they were still there.
In that moment, I heard a voice, “Your glasses are still there!”
Wait! He's talking to me. I whipped around to see a gentleman smiling and brave a big grin and wave of thanks!
Business Lesson 4: Notice the humor on the journey.
Gate 22, 23, 24 … breathing heavy at this point.
Come on Gate 34. I went from jog to fast walk to back to jog.
Gate 30, 31, 32 …
Gate 33 .. I'm almost there. The gate is still open, legs do not fail me now.
I scoop the boarding pass from my purse, I hand it over to the agent, exclaiming, “I made it!”
I make my way down the jet bridge, turned the corner in the plane, find room for my luggage, and drop to my seat.
By this time, sweat is pouring down my face. A few moments later, I see two women get on the plane, they close the gates, and we're taking off.
I made it!
Business Lesson 5: Your possibility is a possibility, until it's not. When your goals are clear and meaningful, your decision making becomes easy and you have added incentive to be in action.
The next day, we drve four hours to be at my nephew and his fiance's wedding shower, which was simply lovely. It's those special moments that make life fulfilling; and, you learn some important lessons along the way.