Friday, May 23, 2008

Bag the Attitude and Get Flexible

I recently returned from a jaunt around the country. A couple of weeks ago I was in Las Vegas; I had a nice suite at a very upscale hotel and was happy as a clam. When I came back to Vegas a week later I didn’t have a hotel reservation and figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to find a room, until I called a dozen hotels and they were all booked (seems the CMA Awards were happening that weekend in addition to a few other conventions). To make a long story short, I ended up in a lousy hotel with a lousy attitude to match. Here’s where the preparedness lesson comes in…
I was sitting in a less than desirable hotel in a less than desirable neighborhood with less than desirable neighbors thinking I should just get on a plane and get the hell out of there when it struck me that it wasn’t the situation that needed to be adjusted but my attitude. In many disaster situations, one of the hardest adjustments to make is people’s preconceived notions about how things should be. The government should help us. This disaster shouldn’t have happened. The hospital shouldn’t make us wait in the ER for six hours. You get the idea...
In order to get past this stumbling block and move towards the repair and recover phase, you often need to stop, take a breath, and look at the situation realistically instead having a condescending “this is how things should be” attitude. So here’s what I did:
First, I looked around the room. It was clean, it had air conditioning, there was a lock on the door, and a handful of security guys walking the property. Also, it just so happened that the news that day was focusing almost solely on the earthquake in China and the typhoon in Myanmar. Those people would be deliriously happy to be safe, warm, dry, and well fed at this particular hotel I was in, so why should I be complaining?
Second, I took a look at the whole situation while trying to stay open-minded. I looked to find where the escape routes would be. I noted who the people were that were staying there (although some people were loitering in front of the building and a couple of prostitutes were leaving the hotel, the vast majority were travelers apparently looking for a bargain hotel). I also noted how the staff worked (there were many staffers working at all times of the day and night in all areas of the facility and they seemed fairly attentive).
Third, I made a back up plan. I called the airline to see which flights were available within the next 24 hours. Then I called a friend who lived in the area to check in but declined an offer to stay with them although I kept the offer in the back of my mind.
Finally, I decided to stay for one night to see how things went. I've stayed in worse places overseas because there weren't other options, however as I get older, I tend to not settle for less than what I want because with age and money comes an attitude that generally serves me well but can sometimes get in the way. Anyway, it turned out fine and we ended up staying for a couple of nights before heading home.
The bottom line is that this experience, in an unlikely way, helped me practice for what could happen during a disaster. It gave me the opportunity to be flexible, manufacture a positive attitude, and create a plan--are all critical components of surviving anything that may come your way.

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