When your back is up against the wall . . . you think, "Maybe I ought to fix the wall."

It was 1972 and Southwest Airlines was in dire straits.  Financial requirements were forcing them to “downsize” their equipment inventory.  They had to sell one of their four planes.

Reading the writing on the wall their employees jumped into the challenge of creating instead of “woe is me . . . I am about to be laid off.”  Their idea, “lets continue to operate with three airplanes like we had four.”  To do this required an unheard of goal of turning about the plane in 10 minutes.  Incredible.  Impossible.

  • Pilots helped load/unload luggage.
  • Flight attendants picked up trash and crossed seat belts as the passengers disembarked.
  • While passengers unloaded in the front, they filled the beverage carts from the back.

They broke the rules, they created a new paradigm.  Ten minutes.

Greatness is not born from success.  It comes from falling down and getting back up to fight again.  Doctors practice.  Lawyers practice.  Pro ball players practice.  Concert pianists practice.

My mother was a piano teacher.  Each day after school I would arrive home and while fixing a snack in the kitchen, doing my homework, etc . . . I would hear the students in the adjoining room playing their pieces and hitting the wrong notes.  Year after year those melodies of right and wrong plunked into my brain.  Subconsciously I KNOW that you have to hit some wrong notes, to practice before you get it right.  Those raised on a farm know that setbacks are just opportunities disguised as work.  The athlete knows that the win is always a few weeks away from today””s loss.

There is that classic quote from Pixar””s movie The Incredibles.  Says young Dash basically, “when everybody is special then no one is.”    Someone has got to lose.  Someone has got to fall down.  There have to be hard times so you can learn over and over that the harder you work, the luckier you get.  There is always another crop.  You take the setback and concentrate on the new game.  There is always another chance to create New Years resolutions.

The performance is only 20% of the outcome.  Forty percent of the outcome occurs before and the remaining 40% comes after. (R. Brinkerhoff).  Practice and evaluation are a must.

Zappos, the online shoe supplier knows this.  Should you find yourself waiting for “the next agent” during a phone call, a pleasant voice asks if you would like to hear the joke of the day?  They focus on the success even before the engagement by entertaining the customer.  Southwest changed the focus on what could happen before or after the passenger got on the plane.  Disney knows that the wait in line can be as big an issue as the actual amusement park ride.

We become charismatic, magic and even magnetic when we take the “wrong note” and practice, invent, create, think of “how to win the war”.  Might that infer that charisma, that touch of the Divine, is nothing more than creation, or moving toward the end goal?  Faith to move mountains.  Or to turn around a plane in 10 minutes.

What was your last setback?  What do you really need to change?

So what is your plan?  What do you need to practice, or work on today?

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