The Best Laid Plans

by Diane Berenbaum

During every summer vacation, my family and I plan our next summer vacation. We debate alternatives and come to agreement on the "lucky" spot for next year. This allows me to plan for the vacation all year long. I research cities, sites and hotels, and have our reservations in place at least nine months ahead. I then look forward to it, all year long. That is exactly what we did last year, when we decided on Glacier National Park.

When we arrived at Many Glacier Hotel this summer, the skies seemed a bit hazy, but we thought nothing of it. Imagine my surprise when, at 6:30 the next morning, we were told that the entire hotel was to be evacuated immediately due to forest fires. We were told that we were "on our own" and there were no other places to stay in the park.

There we were--with no place to stay--and none of my earlier planning could help us. You might think that this is the beginning of a vacation horror story with a moral about overzealous planning, setting hopes too high, putting too many eggs in one basket, etc. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I must admit that when I heard the word, "Evacuate!" my first thoughts were: "This can't be happening. This is not what I had planned." But, my husband and son took it all in stride and said, "Let's go north." We looked at a map and decided to go to Banff (about 6 hours away).

I was nearly speechless when we arrived at Banff and Lake Louise. This was the most beautiful place on earth that I had ever seen. The views of the glaciers and lakes were simply magnificent.

At dinner one night we all quietly admitted that we were actually glad that the fires forced us out of Glacier because that's how we discovered this slice of heaven in the Canadian Rockies.

I quickly realized that, besides great views and challenging hikes, there was a lot to learn from this vacation.

You see, we always go on hikes together, but this place inspired me to hike higher and longer than I have ever done before. And, instead of planning each and every day, like we usually do well in advance, we took them one at a time (and perhaps appreciated each one a bit more).

It's clear that there is no need to panic when what you have carefully planned goes awry. Chances are the change will inspire you to new heights (in my case, literally new heights). You may tap into your creative side and discover new ideas, form new bonds and relationships, and find that you are capable of a lot more than you may have ever known. Has this happened to you before? Did you feel energized as a result?

So, if you ever:

  • Plan a customer service training session and discover at the last minute that you have a different audience with different needs
  • Spend weeks preparing a presentation for a team meeting and find out the topics have changed
  • Take a customer call that starts out on a sour note
Just remember the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "One never goes as far as when one doesn't know where one is going."
So, sit back, take in the world around you and think of the possibilities. You will be amazed at what you can do.
P.S. In case you're wondering - next year we're going to Hawaii!


Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
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