Flying through turbulence, even after dozens of flights, is not my favorite.  That sudden drop as the plane hits pockets is scary! There was a flight a couple of years ago when I was flying home to Austin from Chicago that was particularly memorable. I was flying with 2 friends. The captain had warned us that we would be going through a lot of weather and it was unlikely that we would be permitted to be out of our seats. “Ok,” I thought, “I am a bit tired, so might as well just buckle in, get situated (not comfy, mind you, as we all know that is impossible in modern flights!) and rest”. About 90 minutes into the flight, my flying companions and I saw a bright white light out of the window and everything in the plane flashed for a moment. Alarm bells were going off. We looked to the flight attendant who was calmly seated. She seemed ok, so there must be nothing to worry about, right? After what seemed like an eternally long time (but was really a minute or two!), the captain came on and confirmed what we had feared: we had been struck by lightning. Then he assured us the plane was built with lightning rods that worked flawlessly to distribute the electrical energy out of the plane, thereby protecting it from harm. We were fine, he assured us. Obviously, since I am writing this years later, he was right.

I learned several lessons in that incident that apply to being successful.

The first lesson I learned is warning bells should not be ignored. We were given a pretty reliable intuitive sense that we should not ignore. If something occurs off or just doesn’t feel right, do not ignore your suspicion. Investigate. You could be wrong, but think about the consequences on those times when you ignored the warning signs. (Personally, I have lost tons of money and had failed businesses because I ignored the warning signs…but that is a story for another article!)

The second lesson I learned is to turn to the experts. When you don’t know something that is important or do not have a deep understanding of the subject, turn to an expert for guidance. Just like we observed the flight attendant and listened to the captain for reassurance, turn to someone outside yourself for guidance. This can be a subject matter expert you hire or a coach, like myself. This is a great practice for when you are taking on something new, or interested in growing. You and I cannot possibly know everything, and should not be using our time to learn everything, so consider hiring what you don’t know or at least taking some guidance from an expert. Coaches help you by supporting you to win through having straight conversations and having an outside view to help guide you, as well as being reassuring in those inevitable times of self-doubt.

And the last lesson I learned in that incident is to relax. Some things you cannot control; stressing about them makes no difference and robs you of your energy and enjoyment. I find this is the hardest one that myself and most people are challenged by. Our brain’s reaction to fear is strong. It is reacting to non-real threats all the time and we go into a scramble to fix it or prevent something bad from happening. This can be exhausting if we are trying to control things outside our actual control, like weather, or right now, the pandemic. When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself what actual actions you can take to make any difference. Take those actions. Being in action does make a difference. Being related to what is real vs. what you are reacting to also serves to calm down your brain reaction and relax.

To sum it up: Don’t ignore warning signs in your business or it may cost you dearly. Act on what you can. Let go of trying to control what you cannot. And most importantly, get support when you need it, and relax and enjoy the ride!