Last blog post, I told you that I fractured my foot on May 27, just six weeks ago. And I promised that I would share more about my “broken foot” saga. It was mortifying enough that I tripped and fell as I was coming off the stage after delivering the keynote at a conference, but what made the whole situation even worse was my travel timetable. I was scheduled to fly back to Calgary that evening and then catch a flight to India the next morning, May 28. As I sat in the emergency room at Penticton General waiting for an x-ray, I was on the phone with the airlines trying to work out alternate itineraries. Unfortunately, my choices were dismal. I had none! If I missed my outbound flight that evening, there were no more options, and I would have to fly back to Calgary the next day. And the first flight the next day wouldn’t give me enough time to catch my flight to India that morning. Predictably, as the domino effect continued, there would be numerous problems with clients and commitments that I had scheduled in India.
So what was a girl to do? Well after the first fifteen minutes of pure panic, the answer was obvious – do exactly what I teach managers and supervisors in the workplace to do when they need to get organizational (or departmental) goals accomplished – call upon the people around you to help you achieve your objectives. My objective was simple – I needed to be out of the hospital in enough time to drive to Kelowna (about a one hour road trip) to catch my 6 PM flight. When I work with supervisors and managers to help them become better leaders, I teach them three specific things that they must always do in order to improve their success.
- Identify those who have the skills and the resources to take action
- Articulate clearly what needs to be done in order to meet the objectives.
- Ask nicely. Even if you are in a position of formal authority (which I wasn’t), say please. Appeal to their conscientiousness and sense of responsibility. And always say thank you.
My goal that afternoon – to get in and out of the emergency room as quickly as possible, while not jeopardizing the more critical situations the staff were dealing with. So I asked my host client in Penticton to assist me locating someone who could expedite my visit at the hospital. In an audience of about 200 people, they were able to find such a person! He accompanied me to the hospital and introduced me to the emergency room doctor and the nursing staff. I explained my situation and my travel dilemma, and respectfully asked the staff if they could help me in fast-tracking my visit. I asked nicely; I didn’t order or command and I didn’t behave like a boor. Not surprisingly, the hospital personnel empathized with my situation and assured me that they would do their best. Sure enough, they did! By 4:15 PM I was out of the hospital and in my car. I made my flight. Woo hoo! Scheduling disaster averted!
I just love it when what I teach is proven (yet again) to work in real life! What about you? Have you tried this three-step approach to achieving your objectives? How has it worked for you?