As a business coach, I expect to lead by example, demonstrate superior customer service, follow up and follow through with patience and diligence and pretty much display excellence in just about everything I do. Yes, I do place high expectations upon myself by choice, but also understand that I am human and make mistakes and am grateful for them as I learn and grow.
I think that a slight edge I have in life and business has always been my positive attitude. I have always seen (and again, choose to see) positive versus negative, opportunity versus dismay and growth versus stagnation. I know it’s not always easy to maintain a positive attitude, so I try to incorporate as simple equation into my life when dealing with negative situations…
Perspective + Focus + Creativity = A Positive Outcome
This means keeping your perspective, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to look on the bright side. This requires deliberate focus on making the best of the situation and using creativity in problem solving.
As travel professionals, our positive attitude is challenged many times a year as we travel so often. It’s bound to happen to the road warriors with the more flights they take…it’s the law of averages. To illustrate this point, last month, in my home airport, life happened and allowed me to put my theory of positive thinking to the test. I found out my 9:15am flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems and the next available flight wasn’t until the next day. Not flying was not an option. So, I stood patiently in line to talk to a customer service agent regarding my options.
Naturally, negativity began to try and dance its little jig in my head, testing my positive fortitude. It didn’t help that others began to complain to each other as emotions began to run high. There were so many young families flying on this last day of Spring Break. I observed hostile acts of defensiveness and bursts of anger regarding the obvious inconvenience. As we all know (or should know), you never better your situation by yelling at the only person who can help you.
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I took a breath and chose some perspective here in order to stay positive in a couple of ways. One, I am always grateful for getting information about a mechanical issue while my feet are still on the ground. There is nothing worse than being 30,000 feet in the air and told the same thing. Two, I knew I had to stay positive, focused and get creative on doing whatever I had to do to get to my final destination that day. I knew I had to work patiently and politely with the agent.
Annabelle, the most excellent WestJet ticket agent, demonstrated why WestJet continues to position itself as a best-in-class airline. Her personal acknowledgement of the inconvenience, her professional desire to help me, and her use of active-listening skills helped me find some options in real time. The key words that Annabelle used during our 30 minute conversation were “acknowledge” and “confirm.” Once she demonstrated these skills and behaviors to me, I knew I had a trusted partner on my side.
Together, we determined the only available flight that day was out of a neighboring airport 4 hours away. A rental car was needed. I sincerely believe that keeping my mind focused on a state of positivity allowed me to think creatively to get where I needed. She booked that flight, up-graded me, and checked me in at the new airport to save me time at the gate when I arrived. I took care of my rental car myself, easily made my flight and eventually arrived safely at my destination that night—granted, I was late, but I had arrived. The feel-good ending continues as WestJet promptly reimbursed the cost of the rental car plus gas. It took almost 18 hours, 4 airports, 2 rental cars, and 2 planes to reach my final destination, but to put it in perspective, that was better than not arriving for a very important income-generating opportunity.
So, my three takeaways from this that I want to share is…
- “Positive thinking lifts our energy, negative thinking drops our energy level; our mindset directly correlates with our energy levels” Source: Principles of Energy Healing, the Heart of Healing by Napoleon Hill, Mary & Richard Maddux.
- Acknowledging, questioning and confirming are key skills and behaviors to be used in everyday life and business. Annabelle and her fellow colleagues diffused a negative situation with personal care and compassion, inserting questions and actively listening to solve a problem. Bottom line, they talked the talk and walked the WestJet walk and displayed a meaningful difference, thus cementing my loyalty.
- Life, as in business, is best performed and observed with a positive mindset. It literally gets you where you need to be.
Travel with a smile and enjoy the journey!
Cory is a passionate travel entrepreneur and highly specialized business coach to independent agents, HOST agencies, Travel Associations, respected travel suppliers, and the TRO community. Learn more here.