People hate being squished, bothered and bewildered. Me, I've come to accept it.
Why? Well, I found my mantra. It permits me to travel in planes, trains and automobiles with absolute calm.
"Mantra?" you say. Yes! A phrase that captures negative feelings about unfortunate travel, and redirects them to positive ones.
It comes from an unlikely source: A night course in elementary Spanish I took 30 years ago, when I was introduced to the infinitive of "to be." That's "Hay" or "no hay," meaning "there are" or "there are not."
It was illustrated by this little phrase: "No hay rosas sin espinas," which translates to: "There are no roses without thorns." Pretty, right? Kind of like, That's life, but with a more enduring, latin-y metaphor.
Years later, I was in the midst of a 42-week a year travel schedule that served up constant issues with delayed flights, middle seat discomfort and cranky fellow-travelers.
Naturally, I became cranky, too. The kind of cranky that makes you kick a wall out of frustration and break your foot in the process. And I bitched remorselessly about bad travel luck. It became a kind of mental tick, as if the world were out to get me.
One afternoon I was walking down a long airport hallway--the kind that display a series of luxury advertisements as you walk--and there was a photo of a long-stemmed rose.
"No hay rosas sin espinas," I thought automatically.
The Thought Experiment
And then I realized: I had been kind of a jerk, complaining about my lot in life. I was acting as if there were roses without thorns. My attitude had been that somehow I had never gotten my allotted shipment of super-special roses.
But of course, there are no such things. And so I self-corrected, there and then.
I accomplished this change through this thought experiment:
Would I take a deal that promised no travel if there were a catch? Let's say I could give up the boredom, discomfort and scheduling issues--but only if it meant that I would have to give up my consulting business. Would I take that deal?
No planes, but also no more more visiting great companies? No more being the lowest form of life--passenger. But also no more meeting inspiring employees and visionary leaders?
And the answer, of course was: never! And so I realized I had been complaining about the very aspect of my work life that enabled my relationships and my own professional identity.
Travel, it turns out, brings out the richness of it all. Travel is the thorn that comes with the rose of doing what you love.
Travel Warning for Travel Companies
Warning: this doesn't work if you hate your job AND hate the travel. If that's the case, get out your hedge clippers because you live in a thorn bush. And I am not suggesting that this relieves the burden on this monopolistic, customer-unfriendly, overpriced, ergonomically-challenged and sometimes stupid industry to change its ways. They must.
But for those with reasonable satisfaction on their side (and perhaps a dash of hope that it might get better) learn this mantra, and repeat after me.