What happens when things don’t go as planned—with a project, new hire, or even a vacation? How do you shift quickly and allow the plan to unfold for you, rather than use up time and energy frustrated with unexpected challenges.
Also, how do you get your team to shift quickly?
Train in uncertainty. Become masterful at shifting quickly to capitalize on the unexpected, rather then use up precious time and energy resisting it.
Such training is not easy. Of course it’s not—it goes against the natural wiring of our brains, but sometimes (often, actually) adjusting in the moment nets us far better results then any plan we would have created.
I recently had a chance (not that I wanted it—believe me I didn’t want it) to practice adjusting on the fly, and I’ve gotta tell ya, my limits were pushed and I certainly used up energy fretting over the outcome.
Ready for some time in nature, we packed our car and headed for a weekend of glamping (glamorous camping) at Catoctin State Park, about an hour and a half from our home in Baltimore, Maryland.
Arriving at the campground at around 10am on Friday, we were beyond excited to have scored the best campsite in the campground. Not only was the tent area close to a river, but the site was spacious and offered us exactly what we were looking for in a serene weekend away.
After tossing a couple of items on the picnic table to secure our spot, we headed back to register. Except we couldn’t register onsite, as we’d done in years past. Somehow we missed the memo in our online research—the campground had shifted to online registration only and every site was booked.
Unsure how we missed that important detail, we shifted gears and headed toward Shenandoah National Park, where we’d camped dozens of times during the years we lived in northern Virginia. Before getting too far into our three-hour drive we called to make sure they had spaces available.
“All the reserved sites are taken, though there are several walk-up only available at Big Meadows,” the lady said before hanging up.
Pulling up to the main park entrance, just outside of Luray, Virginia, we started getting concerned about our decision when we saw a twenty-minute line to get into the park. A few moments later, the sign next to Big Meadows campground was in clear view—FULL.
“Are there any other campgrounds in the park with sites still available?” I asked, desperate to commune with nature for the weekend.
“Well, there’s The Loft campground. They might have a site available. It’s about fifty-miles further south on Skyline Drive.
We’d already come this far, though, so we made a quick pit stop and headed in the direction of The Loft, hoping there would still be a site available by the time we got there—a full six hours after beginning this camping journey.
“There is no way we’d ever come this far south in Shenandoah on our own accord,” I suggested, “Clearly, we need to experience this campground and this portion of Shenandoah,” I said, trying to lighten the mood, keep positive, and remain focused on our camping goal, recognizing that we did not have a backup plan.
Moments later, when dark clouds rolled overhead and we were still thirty-to-forty minutes from The Loft, all that positive thinking went out the window. It didn’t help that our brand-new roof bag wasn’t waterproof, and we had all our sleeping gear in it!
No longer able to stay open and curious about what we might discover on this adventure, I found myself irritable and angry for not simply turning back after we found out the first campground was full.
Anger and irritation were probably not the best use of energy, but after nearly six hours in the car and still no certainty we’d even get a spot, it crept in.
Interestingly, almost as soon as I voiced my frustration, I felt a little better. There was nothing we could do but see how this whole thing would play out.
We made it to The Loft moments later, which not only had several sites available, but also turned out to be the most beautiful campground in Shenandoah. With the mountain laurel in full bloom, we got to enjoy one of the best hikes we’d experienced in Virginia.
Sure, it took six hours of uncertainty and plenty of frustration, but what we ended up with was way better then anything we could have planned on our own—heck, we didn’t even know this campground existed until our plans fell apart.
That’s the beauty of being willing to keep progressing toward your goals even though you don’t know where you’re going to end up. When you’re willing to stay focused on your mission and stay in the middle of uncertainty, magic has a chance to emerge.
Run the other direction and you’ll never know what’s possible.
What is the outcome (vision, mission, benchmark) you crave, and how can you (and your team) begin allowing uncertainty to take you into remarkable experiences that are beyond any you could possibly imagine?
Here’s to your greatness,