40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail ~ #1

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife and soulmate, retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’ ~ the start of the ‘gap year’ she never had as a young adult.

Whilst on the Freedom Trail, I journalled every day about our trip and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson arising from our experiences. Over the next 40 weeks, I’d like to share those lessons with you.

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#1 – Leaders consider their options

The news was not what we expected when we arrived at Newcastle airport. We were excited about our trip and the adrenaline was pumping! So this took us completely by surprise.

One of us would have to go on the standby list. Aargh! As it was, our timings were tight for the transfer from Heathrow to New York. The potential for missing that flight had not figured in our calculations!

Some heated conversation later, and no change whatsoever in their decision, we were booked in – Lesley on the flight and me on standby! You can perhaps imagine our mental state.

[Tweet "Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever." - Keri Russell]

Once in the passenger lounge, we discussed our options should the stand by fail. We then hit our mobile phones to explore what other flight, rail or road options might work for us. We also agreed that I would try to follow on quickly if the standby option failed, though Lesley was extremely unhappy about this.

Time seemed to pass ever so slowly! The more we searched the more we realized that there were no other options that would get me to London in time for the transfer flight. It was this one or another flight later in the day or the next day!

In the departure lounge we both waited nervously in the standby section! As they called people forward, still no news!

Then, as the lounge emptied, I was summoned to the check-in desk. “You’re OK to fly Mr Thurlbeck – please proceed to board.” What a massive relief – the Freedom Trail was back on course!

Leaders consider their options, stay calm, assess the risks and look for alternate solutions.

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