Don’t Burn Down Tokyo: How to Suppress Your Inner Godzilla
Revelation of True Character, Courtesy of Adversity
There are a plethora of “people tests” out there designed to help you know yourself and others better. But what if you want to learn about someone’s “default” self—the raw and real person who lies intuitively underneath it all?
One way to accomplish that is to confront them with an unexpected and undesirable situation. And what better way to do that than to delay someone’s flight—repeatedly—when they really need to be somewhere.
If you travel by plane regularly, you’ve experienced delayed flights. Some delays spring from mechanical issues. Others arise from weather or human issues. And there are other delays for which the causes will forever remain mysteries.
A true test of someone’s character is the way they handle those delays—particularly when traveling alone.
A Frustration-Fueled Path of Destruction
On a recent trip home from California, all of my flights and connections ran on time. Unfortunately, the gate next to me had a flight scheduled to Providence, Rhode Island, that was delayed repeatedly due to mechanical problems. Most of the inconvenienced passengers took the news in stride—most but not all. There’s always one who doesn’t, you know. And, wow!
That “one” passenger in question yelled at everyone from the gate attendants to the baggage handlers. (What she hoped to achieve other than expressing her frustration was unclear.) Only after she had ripped through every airline employee in sight, she sat down. Next to me. Then, she called the airline’s reservation number, using the speaker on her phone so that everyone at the gate could hear her conversation.
Most of us—minus the agitated woman seated next to me at the gate—understand that the reservations line is for setting up flights, not handling customer service issues. The airline employee who answered the call attempted to mention that fact a few times. They even managed to squeak in a word or two, offering to transfer the passenger to customer service. Yet the harangue continued unabated. Finally, the passenger paused to take a breath, and the reservation employee had an opportunity to explain that the customer service desk was at the other end of the terminal. Sensing the opportunity to lay into another unsuspecting airline employee, the passenger abruptly hung up and went tearing down the walkway in search of a new victim.
A Proactive Approach to Averting Disaster
Chances are that you’ve seen some variation of this situation during your travels. My question to you is, “How do you react in similar situations?” What’s your plan, and what do you hope to accomplish? Are you reactive or proactive? Because the difference matters.
As leaders, we’re constantly faced with the unexpected and the undesirable. Many of us put on a professional persona when confronted with unexpected speed bumps. However, how do you behave when you’re by yourself, surrounded by no one familiar?
Do you default to rage and reaction, lashing out like Godzilla and causing mass destruction? Or do you take a breath, craft a plan, accept that which is beyond your control, and attempt to influence the situation as best you can?
Training yourself to hit pause or “take a beat” sounds easy, but it requires practice and tremendous self-discipline. If your default setting is to go “BOOM,” it may be worth some self-reflection. A wide variety of techniques, disciplines, and practices exist to help you move beyond your default setting. However, you have to want to make that change.
If you or someone on your team struggles with suppressing the urge to speak first rather than listen, restraining from sending nuclear email barrages, or otherwise keeping cool when things don’t go their way, give me a call. Together, we’ll make sure that Tokyo survives—even if you miss your plane. Because the last thing you want is to go all Godzilla, unleashing fury on well-intentioned folks just trying to do their job.