But controlling your own mind isn’t always easy. After two particularly uncomfortable, internal US flights, on old planes with no entertainment and no free food or drinks, my positive mindset about the upcoming 15 hour flight back to Australia was being challenged, especially as I got to sit in front of one of those nightmare passengers - He had barged his way to his seat, kept blocking the aisle as he jumped up and down to retrieve items from his oversized bag, filling the overhead hand luggage tray, and then to make things worse started banging his TV monitor that was of course located on the back of my chair - because he couldn’t get the touch screen technology to work. He shouted loudly to his wife for hours about how annoyed he was with everything and everybody, he marched up the aisles demanding the food arrive quicker, he rang his bell countless times because the technology was failing him and eventually after 5 hours of this I had had enough and turned around and scolded him like he was a naughty school boy. By then I had really worked myself up emotionally, and was furious that this man had ruined my journey.
Reflecting on this later, it occurred to me that I had allowed this to happen. Apart from a couple of fellow sufferers who shared my frustration and almost applauded me for my outburst, most people had just ignored him and were peacefully sleeping or were deeply enthralled by the movie they were watching. I was the one waiting in angry anticipation for every poke of my chair, every verbal outburst, every push of his attendants’ button – and every time, my blood boiled. In my mind I fully justified my anger, and knew that when I told this story to anyone else who travelled, they would justify my anger too. I had a right to be angry and I was going to indulge it!
Realising it was my mindset that was the real problem, I got up, replaced the flat batteries in my noise cancelling headset, got out my ipad, selected my favourite Playlist and drifted off to sleep to the sound of Coldplay’s “Fix you”…realising that actually it wasn’t about fixing him, it was about fixing me!
In management, especially when managing upwards, we often allow ourselves to become victims of our situation too. Instead of calmly working out a plan of how to improve our situation, and learning to accept those parts that we cannot change, we become angry at the situation, angry at the company for not hiring enough staff, angry at our bosses for not fixing the problems and even angry at customers for not being more reasonable. We know what we are doing is not improving the situation, but we are more concerned with justifying our righteous anger, than addressing the problem to create a winning outcome.
So next time you are feeling annoyed by everyone else, ask yourself if you are just defending your right to annoy yourself….