This morning I left ten minutes early for a meeting with Berny Dohrman, Co-Founder of CEOSpace International, and my friend and sister coach, Carol StanleyI got behind an accident. Traffic was at a standstill. I was delayed. Not part of my plan!

I decided to get off the direct route and take a detour which would get me to the meeting location faster, only five minutes late instead of the fifteen minute delay the GPS promised on the original route.

I used the extra commute time to put myself into a positive, open mindset, hoping to gain as much as possible from the meeting as well as to contribute what I could. At the end of my detour, I received a warm greeting, a great cup of hazelnut decaf, and invaluable coaching from Berny.

This is just one tiny example of things not going as I plan. It happens to everyone. It’s the nature of living!

Let’s look at some specific strategies to deal with challenges when things don’t go as you planned:

  1. Remain present. It’s easy to mentally rehearse scenarios that will add nothing of value to your choices when you need to flex or change. Instead, stay mentally focused on what is. This will allow you to do the next thing, which is….
  2. Assess the new situation. Whether it’s learning the truth about the detour options available and choosing the best one, learning that key employees are leaving to start their own company, or learning what’s coming down the pike with new technology and selecting what works for your business, it pays to be open, to gather information, to do an assessment. The level of detail will depend on the cost and opportunity of the changes you face. As you assess and solve….
  3. Consider the people who will be impacted. In my case there were not only two others I’d be delaying, there were the emergency vehicles trying to get to the accident, all the cars around me, and all the cars behind me carrying drivers that still were unaware of the accident a half mile ahead. Besides yourself, who else will be impacted by this change you face?
  4. Choose. Get out of the past, look as clearly as possible into your best future, and in the present, make the best choice you can with the information available. Sometimes the choice will be to wait until you know more. In that case, recognize that waiting to choose is, in itself, a choice. For example, if I’d stayed on the route I was on without looking at any other options, I’d have arrived over fifteen minutes late to my meeting.
  5. Tell positive stories. Whatever choices you make when things are not going as planned, whatever your detour, the impact on your future will depend on the stories you tell yourself and others. Be sure your stories are true, but let the best truth be told. The detour I faced was about another driver’s problem, not about me. Praying for the people involved in the accident and arriving relaxed and open added positivity to a challenge. How can you tell the best possible story about the changes you face?
  6. Learn for the future. In my case, for example, if I start making a point of arriving at least fifteen or twenty minutes early, my on time record will improve in spite of others South Puget Sound drivers. What can you use from the detour you’re facing to better prepare you for your future?