Lessons From a Family Vacation – When Things Don’t Go as Planned

We had the opportunity to spend time in Park City this week as a family enjoying what I think is some of the best skiing around!  The weather has been great, and the time together has been even more of a blessing.  The only curve ball has been my youngest son fracturing his arm.  Skiing accidents are not uncommon, but when it’s one of your kids and it happens on the very first day of the trip, it can put a major damper on everything planned.  The situation forced us to rethink our days and challenged us to look for completely new ways to entertain ourselves.  Our ski trips have always been filled with one thing; skiing.  Who would have known that there are so many more ways to spend time together as a family and enjoy what Park City had to offer OUTSIDE of skiing?

As I was thinking about our major rework of Spring Break 2018 it dawned on me that these types of situations are common in business.  How many times do you have a plan only to have some unexpected event interrupt everything?  I have always been blessed to learn so much from my family.  What they have taught me this week may be helpful for you if you are faced with an unexpected situation.  My 3 big lessons are:

Focus forward – Once the broken arm was diagnosed it didn’t take my son long to begin thinking about what he wanted to do in light of the new reality.  I was amazed at the fact he never asked, “why me”, or “why this”, or “why now”?  We never spent much time debriefing how we got to where we are (although I recognize it can be helpful in some circumstances); we just moved to talking about what we wanted the rest of the trip to look like based on the current state.  In business it is easy to get stalled trying to understand how you got to where you are, but the sooner you can shift the focus to a forward-looking perspective the sooner you will be able to advance your team.

Organize options – One of the biggest challenges when plans go sideways is to determine the most viable options for moving forward.  One of the reasons good plans are often executed well is that a lot of thought and consideration has been put into the approach.  When major interruptions occur, it’s not always easy to get clarity on the best NEW alternatives.  To his credit, the first thing my son and frankly my wife began to consider is what can we can do that doesn’t require the use of a full functioning body?  Turns out there are a lot of options including museum visits, a tour of Olympic Park, and catching a movie.  My family quickly organized the options and we were able to rework our plan in a way that fired everyone up.

Family First – Truthfully, this final lesson is one that likely served as the foundation for allowing us to quickly adjust.  My boys enjoy spending time together, so it wasn’t difficult for my oldest son to drop his own ideas of what a ski trip should be like and be willing to completely shift the schedule.  It was more important that we are ALL doing things as a group than it was for any one person’s agenda to make things complicated.  In business, the commitment of the team is critical for being able to consider a major shift in the plan.  When in doubt, take the time to remind the team of the vision for the organization so the focus stays on the big picture and not the short-term challenge they are experiencing.  It will make all the difference in the world; it surely has for our family this week.

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