Lessons from missing a flight.
I fly a lot. I enjoy not only the seeing-new-things side of it, but also watching this beast of an industry, with so many moving parts, achieve what it does every single day. Regional, international, double-deckers, 4-seaters, I’ve experienced all kinds of aircraft and all shapes of airports. And, until recently, I had a 100% attendance rate in getting to my aircraft and in my seat on time. Have I been called over terminal intercoms by name? Of course. But never, until a few weeks ago, have I actually missed a flight.
Now, most people I know have missed flights because of traffic, or delayed meetings, or problems with check-in. These are all completely understandable, which is why I generally like to leave home earlier than necessary in order to combat any unforeseen circumstances. This occasion was no exception.
My flight was scheduled for 06:00 leaving Lanseria, boarding at 05:30. I arrived at 05:00, pre-checked in, walked through security and headed straight to the SLOW XS lounge. I grabbed a coffee, some granola, I had plenty of time. I sat at the window and watched the people around my plane getting it ready. I even took a photo of the plane and posted it on Instagram. I watched the pilots enter. I watched the crew enter. I watched the engineers doing what they do. All while working on my laptop and admiring the view. 05:30 came around and I saw no passengers walking toward the plane. Strange, I thought, but maybe the crew were having a problem and there was a slight delay. These things happen. I continued to work, and continued to watch my plane. 10 minutes passed, no passengers. Another 10 minutes passed, no passengers. At this point I figured I needed to go to the gate, downstairs, to find out what the problem was in order to potentially plan my day differently. I walked downstairs and saw a line of passengers ready to board my plane at Gate 5. Except it wasn’t my plane. My plane was at Gate 4, and as I turned my head towards the correct gate, I watched as the door was securely closed, and my plane, my actual plane, was pushing back – without me.
The boarding information was on my ticket. It was also on the screens in the lounge. It was also – almost certainly – shared via intercom that boarding for my flight had started. Hell, they may even have called my name. Information on what I needed to do was everywhere around me, but none of it mattered because I only had one thing on my mind: Keeping an eye on my plane, which turned out to be the wrong plane entirely.
Why should this story matter to you?
We often get so stuck on one thing, and aggressively focus all our energy and attention on that one thing, that we forget everything else around us. Now, is focus a bad thing? Of course not, but what is a bad thing is not realising when your focus is indeed on the wrong thing.
So what should you do?
Think about your 3 big focus areas right now – whether personal or for your business – take a step back and consider if these truly are the right things to have your eye on (or, as in my case, is it headed in the wrong direction entirely).
Originally published on LinkedIn.