Slowly I walked around it, turned and walked away. Walking down the aisle, I kept looking back over my shoulder. I stood looking at the model of a car that I had rented a hundred times, and the one that was calling my name.
I hurriedly walked back to the hot burnt orange Chrysler 300, lest someone else spotted it. When I checked out, the attendant stated, “Girl, you sparkle in that car.” I replied, “Yes, yes, I do!”
I was scheduled to speak at a conference and was loving my spicy rental. Cruising down the freeway with the sunshine smiling down and making the color of the car pop even more, I was feeling like a million dollars — no, with inflation these days, like a billion dollars. At stoplights, I swear people looked over with approving nods and smiles.
The day after I presented, I had a very early flight. It was dark and moody as I loaded up my sparkling rental car. As I pulled out, my phone went completely mute. Directions were only available by reading them. I attempted to fix the issue at an intersection. That delay caused me to enter the intersection a few seconds after the light turned green. Thankfully I had hesitated, as a very large truck ran the red light. The truck would have T-boned me.
The next following minutes are a blur, I missed many exits due to my muted phone. Directions took me into a very unsettling area with no place to pull over. Suddenly, it started raining. It was dark, I could not find the switch to activate the windshield wipers and I am blindly driving. I fumbled around trying to find the switch and hit paddles on the steering wheel. Paddles that turned my car from an automatic to a manual. Cars were all around me. My heart was pounding, and my mouth was bone dry. It was raining even harder as I drove under an overpass. As I came out of the overpass, the rain had stopped. My friends say my mother’s angel wings were working overtime. I navigated to the airport and as I pulled in, the attendant asked, “How did the car work for you?”
I was ready to kiss the ground I was standing on. I was so grateful to be safe and intact, and not having to file an insurance claim based on my own lack of preparedness. I started to answer that the car was a horrible experience but stopped myself. I had a great experience with the car, until my lack of knowledge and preparedness was put to the test. I answered, “It was fine.”
What does fine really mean? Merriam-Webster defines fine as a sum imposed as punishment for an offense. Other definitions, depending upon how it is used, defines the word as a satisfactory or pleasing manner, or a descriptor of hair or wine. What was I really saying?
In the beginning, the experience was beyond fine. It was fabulous. It was only when adversity came at me that my perspective changed. The car did not change. I did. My reactions, lack of preparedness and knowledge and being in unfamiliar territory all influenced my perspective.
Have you ever done the same as a leader?
Musing over it all at the airport, I came to the following conclusions:
- Why is it that we are always excited about the new or flashy when other solutions are just as viable?
- Thought: When you become excited about what is new and exciting, pause, ask yourself why? Having clarity about your own motivation will strengthen your leadership capability and where you need to focus your energy.
- Why is the emotion of gratitude fleeting until we face challenges that remind us of our own fragility?
- Thought: Think of those who are quietly “doing” without asking for notice or recognition. Envision their faces and identify why you are grateful for their contributions. Tell them specially how much you appreciate what they do for you, or your organization.
Lastly, the next time you rent a car that is unfamiliar to you, take the time to find the windshield wiper switch and how to turn on your lights. You will thank me someday when you are driving in the dark and rain.
Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, is the President/CEO of M2WL Consulting. She has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel and the American Nurses Association, and she currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing and Sigma, International Honor Society for Nursing. She was honored by Saint Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.
The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.