Have you ever had a day that didn’t go quite as planned? You created this perfect scenario in your mind, but the reality that unfolded didn’t even come close. My (very short) career as a first grade teacher many years ago taught me about planning for the unexpected.
It was Valentine’s Day and the other teachers were complaining at lunch and at recess about how much time it was taking to distribute the valentines. I wondered, “How long does it take kids to put valentines on each other’s desks? These women must not be organized!” MY plan (as a brand new teacher) was SO much better … until reality took over.
Thirty minutes before the dismissal bell rang I passed out the cupcakes and announced, “Boys and girls, you can give out your valentines now.” Angela quickly thrust her bag at me. “I can’t read the names my mom wrote on the envelopes. Will you give out my valentines?”
As I smiled and took the bag from her I thought, “OK, not part of my plan…but not so bad.” Then I turned around. A line had formed. Thirty children held out their bags to me and pleaded, “Give mine out, too!”
OK, let’s do the math. 31 students x 31 valentines each = 961 valentines … to be distributed in 25 minutes. That’s 38.4 valentines per minute. I definitely needed a new plan.
In my most commanding voice I said, “Girls and boys, put your cupcakes down, come up here next to the chalkboard and stand in a straight line. When you hear me call your name, take one step forward, put your hand out, take your valentine, and step back in line. There will be NO talking. If you talk, you will not hear me call your name. And that means you will not get any valentines. Do you want to go home with NO valentines?”
Picture 31 solemn little faces, eyes wide open, heads shaking wildly back and forth. Until the final bell rang, the only voice heard in the room was mine. The new plan worked. Every child went home with 31 valentines. I went home with a massive headache.
Even if you’re not a teacher, every experience can be a learning experience. What are you planning or working on now? Maybe it’s a new product, service or event. Perhaps you’re taking the next step in your career – or your life.
What are your expectations? What are others’ expectations of you? Have you planned for the UNexpected? How will you get results without creating stress for yourself and others? What will you do to STAND OUT from the Crowd in a positive way? Tell me what’s worked for you. And Happy Valentine’s Day!