Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No matter how much you plan, something usually goes wrong...

Just got back from our Midwest conference in Chicago. Overall, a great experience. Largest crowd we've had there. The venue was the most convenient and most attractive yet. Set up was relatively easy. The students were attentive and willing to listen and learn.

Despite these positives, there were some negatives. My flight from Florida was delayed by weather, meaning I didn't get done setting up Friday night until well after midnight. Then the food-service provider didn't provide enough food for either the continental breakfast or the lunch for attendees. We had some hungry and, as a result, unhappy campers, so to speak, and justifiably so.

Despite all of our planning and advance work, there was nothing I could do about the delayed flight. I just sat and waited, trying to catch up on e-mail and phone calls.And on the food front, both ASGA and our host had provided the correct numbers to the caterer. They just didn't deliver on their end.

Of course, the food issue could have led to a black-eye for the conference. But I took responsibility and offered all 240 attendees a $10 off discount toward a future ASGA conference, as an apology. I think, in the end, it was OK.

What this teaches me and reminds me is that so much of our work is outside our control and influence. No matter what we do, no matter how many times we check up, and no matter how much advance planning there is, something usually goes wrong that is outside of our influence. We have no control over the catering, and certainly have no power to change air-traffic control decisions on flights leaving the southeast.

I took both issues pretty much in stride. In the past, I might have blown up and caused a scene. Either I've mellowed as I get older and more experience or I have learned to maintain more of a level head, especially over matters I don't have the power to change.