Keep Calm and Smile On

Have you ever had one of those days where everything falls apart and the only thing you can do is smile and carry on?

I just had one of those weeks.

As a fledgling road-warrior-trainer, they warned that I will eventually experienced delayed flights, hostile participants, interruptions, climate control issues, missing pieces, and all sorts catastrophes throughout my travels. I sure hope they didn’t mean it would all happen at once. Well, here’s to hoping. It all went down this week.

This week began with a 5-hour flight delay. For a 1-hour flight. The turbulence was so bad that we didn’t get drinks and we weren’t allowed to use the bathrooms. Thank goodness it was a short flight!

Keep Calm and Smile OnAfter landing, I had another 3.5 hour drive to San Luis Obispo. By the time I checked into the hotel at 2 am, I was bleary-eyed and had only 3 hours to prepare for the next day’s workshop. I smiled a lot and powered through.

The second day, right in the middle of the Ventura workshop, the fire alarm went off. I calmly led my 30+ participants toward the parking lot. When we got the all clear from the poor maintenance man who accidentally set it off, we all milled back in and finished the program. (On time, I might add!) We had a good laugh over that one.

The third day, we were in a basement room in downtown Pasadena with no cell reception, WiFi, or air conditioning. Thank goodness it was only 83 outside, so it was only 85 inside. We smiled and sweated the day through.

Meanwhile, I got all of the participants from a rival seminar company because I was the only one with signs and our workshop titles were virtually identical. I ended up drawing a map to the other location and posting it on my door. I made sure to smile at each person and wish them good learning.

The fourth day was in Anaheim – right across the street from Disneyland. The Hispanic Women’s Business Conference carried on in the conference room connected to us – complete with wine, shouting, and salsa music so loud that it shook the walls. Honest, things were literally falling off of the walls from the noise all day long, even after the management asked them to turn it down. Because there were only two bathrooms, anytime us girls had to go, we had to stand in line. The men kept trying to defect to the other event. I smiled and danced through the day.

This was also my first experience with a combative student. He sat in the very front and argued with anything he could. When we talked about appreciating employees, he grumbled that folks like him – techies – hated compliments and aren’t motivated by recognition. I won him over by peppering the presentation with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Star Trek references. He even laughed at my Commodore 64 joke.

The fifth day was, by comparison, blissfully uneventful – unless you count the mass exodus right after the lunch hour. I lost nearly half of my class due to sick children, weddings, and an employee funeral. Really. They were all kind enough to tell me that they loved it so far, but they had to go. Another participant left his cell phone at the convenience store across the street, but we got him back after an hour or so (with his phone – yay!) Another participant apologized afterwards and admitted that he might have OD’d on cold medicine during lunch. He tried his best to keep up, but I lost him a couple of times. At least he didn’t snore. I was prepared for sleepers, though. Already had a snorer in my very first class – who complained that we woke him up with our “loud talking and music.” He was on the roster, but I’m not quite sure he knew he was in a class. At least cold medicine guy was smart, fun, and tried his best.

The flight home was…well…it was a Friday night flight to Las Vegas. My seatmates are typically pretty darned excited to be heading to my home town. This time, the couple who took the center and aisle seat spoke no English. I tried my limited Spanish, Italian, and a little French, too. No dice. We did a lot of nodding and smiling.

The rest of the  rows surrounding us were filled with excited frat boys who talked and whooped the whole flight. When the drink cart came around, I turned around, smiled, and thanked the gentleman behind me for buying me a glass of wine. He was so involved with his party pals that he simply smiled back and handed his card to the flight attendant to buy the round.

Free wine always tastes better.

All in all, I had amazing people in each class. We learned a lot together, and I hope to get some solid constructive feedback. Most of my Friday afternoon leave-early-crowd are going to catch up to me when I return in a week to catch the second half.

Today, I am that type of weary that you feel with a job well done. And, most of all, I’ve re-learned to Keep Calm and Smile On.

**I created the graphic above in honor of the original. If you don’t know the story of the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, find it here.

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