Lufthansa Flight Prague – Frankfurt
Just finished my Coke Zero. Now I’m savoring my usual second drink. Black tea with a drop of milk. There is something calming about flying. No mobile distractions. My worries left on the ground. Finally, a quiet moment in a busy week. Time to review the notes.
And then… Bam!
In a split of a second the plane drops. The tea-cup held in my hand clearly follows the drop of the plane, while at the same time, some of the tea remains hanging in the air. This discrepancy results a second later in some tea landing on my journal, on my shirt and in my lap. Then – nothing. As if we just crossed a single large bump while speeding on a motorway – and continued a smooth ride.
I look around, hoping to find someone to complain to. A few seconds pass. Then, captain’s voice spreads over the cabin. “As you probably have noticed, we have just experienced a turbulence…” Yeah captain, I see you’re a real pro. Finally, I see a stewardess. I decide that I have more pressing matters to attend to than to argue about the injustice. “Could you please give me some napkins?” She nods, takes a few quick strides to the front of the plane, and in a matter of seconds comes back with a generous handful. The tea-drying operation is moderately successful. I press what is left of the napkins together and put the pile on the side. I take a sip of the tea that remained in the cup and get back to reviewing my notes. Topic: Storytelling.
An example from a workshop by one of my favorite speakers Peter Zinn. The story about a fridge:
“In the middle of the night, a man wakes up hungry in his room. He goes to the kitchen. He opens the fridge and gets a sandwich. He eats the sandwich. He goes back to sleep.”
Something does not work here. No bump. No turbulence. No story. Compare:
“In the middle of the night, a man wakes up hungry in his room. He goes to the kitchen. To his horror he finds out – the fridge is gone!”
Now we’re talking!
The tea that soaked my jeans is getting cold. A slightly uncomfortable feeling. I’m thinking about what could have been the alternative. No bump. No turbulence. No tea on my jeans. And… No story. I have nothing to complain about.
From the moment we get a grip on the world around us, we’re spending money, time and effort, hoping to make the ride as smooth as possible. What we don’t realize however, is that when the ride is too smooth, we find ourselves bored to death. While in fact, deep inside, we hope that one night we will wake up in our room, go to the kitchen, and will find that our fridge is finally gone.
The next time a bump or a turbulence throws you off course, you will know better than to complain. Take a deep breath. Smile. Savor the feeling.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.