“What looks like garbage from one angle might be art from another. Maybe it did take a crisis to get to know yourself; maybe you needed to get whacked hard by life before you understood what you wanted out of it.”
There are lots of twists and turns that come along with being a business owner. Every day looks different, and there’s always a new lesson to be learned. Things can change from one hour to the next, and moments are anything but dull. And there is always, always a diamond lining.
A few months back I did a TV segment in Indianapolis. To say my experience was a whirlwind is an understatement. The segment itself was great, but my travel experience and some other events surrounding the day were a bit . . . intense. I would call it a cluster—-, but I really did learn so much from all the chaos so I prefer to view the experience in a positive light as I do most situations.
Arriving in Indianapolis was fairly seamless despite a pretty turbulent flight. Luckily, I powered through with the help of some Pinot Grigio, and arrived at my hotel in one, albeit slightly tipsy, piece. I spent the evening catching up on some work, enjoying room service, meeting with a client, and preparing for my appearance the next morning. So far so good, right?
Fast-forward to 8:00 a.m. the next day, and I am ready to roll. Seventeen pounds of HD makeup slapped on my face, stilettos on, and I am out the door. I had asked the front desk the night before how far the station was by taxi, and they assured me it would be a ten-minute ride-tops. I decided to leave myself thirty minutes because I assumed there might be traffic, and I detest being late. When I get to the taxi stand outside the hotel that morning, the staff convinces me to take a town car. They tell me the rate is the same, and who wouldn’t want to travel in a brand-new Lincoln with fancy tinted windows as opposed to a junky cab? Sold.
My first red flag comes when the hotel staff is talking to the driver for a good five to seven minutes before I even get in the car. All they’re doing is giving him an address! I thought. What the hell could be taking so long? Finally, it appears he’s ready for me, so I make my way over and hop in. My driver is extremely nice, and I immediately confirm with him the ride will take ten minutes as promised (and you can imagine my panic because we’ve al ready wasted almost ten just negotiating this ride). He shows me his GPS and says, “Thirty-seven minutes, miss.”
“Thirty-seven!?” I yelp. I can feel my heart start to race as I glance at the clock. Breathe.
“Yes, miss. Thirty-seven minutes to this address,” he replies. “Okay, let’s just GO! This is a live appearance. Live television. I can’t be late.”
He nods and we take off. As we’re getting on the highway, the knot in my stomach grows tighter. We’re driving, and driving, and driving, and I’m trying not to have a full-blown panic attack in the backseat as I realize we are going far.
It’s now 8:35 a.m., (I was supposed to be at the station by 8:30), and I ask him to confirm how much longer the ride will be. He tells me twelve more minutes. I e-mail the producer and let her know I’m running late, apologizing profusely in my message, desperately hoping I see a sign for the station building.
By 8:50a.m. I’m seeing farms.
“This can’t be the right way. They told me the studio was down town, in the city,” I calmly say, though I’m fighting tears at this point, convinced I’m going to miss my segment. “Can you pull over?” My driver pulls over, and I dial the station. As I’m feverishly tap ping the numbers into my iPhone, I can see this poor man starting to sweat. He’s wiping his forehead with a handkerchief and looks
nervous. “I’m so sorry, miss. My GPS gave me these directions.”
At this point, I get the station receptionist on the line and quickly brief her on my situation. She starts giving me directions, and I toss my phone at my driver. “Please talk to her! I have no idea where we are!”
It’s now 9:00a.m. I am a half hour late. The show has begun taping-live.
After some more conversation with the receptionist and some maneuvering in his CPS, we’re on our way. ”Are you sure this is the right direction?” I nicely ask, now trying to calm this man down because I can see how badly he feels for the whole debacle. “Yes. I promise. I will get you there. You will not be late, right?” He’s still sweating. I feel terrible for him.
“No no, it’s okay. It will be fine. They’ll tape me and use it on another day if anything. Don’t worry.”
I’m worried. In fact, I’m panicked. But I’m realizing that it will be okay, and this man probably feels way worse than I do right now.
He thanks me repeatedly for being so kind. He’s apologized about four hundred times by this point-and sincerely. My heart is breaking now, imagining how most people probably treat him. “Listen, life happens. Sometimes we go in the wrong direction. All we can do is turn around and find our way again,” I say to him. Hello-life coach on board.
He looks relieved, even happy that I am not going to scream or chuck my stiletto at his head. We pull up to the station and tells me he will wait for me while I film. “Just go, miss, I will be here. I will take you back for free. Anywhere you need to go,” he assures me.
I pull myself together and walk into the station, channeling my most Fearless & Fabulous self, despite the chaotic adventure I was just on. I wind up making my appearance by the skin of my teeth, with just ten minutes to spare, and it goes off without a hitch. I walk outside afterward and there is my driver, waiting for me just as he said he would. He takes me back to the hotel, and all is well.
I think most people-including my former self-would have probably lost their s— in my situation. Imagine flying into a city to be on live TV, only to almost miss your opportunity? It definitely rattled me, but rather than freak out, get angry, or go into full-on panic mode, I actively looked for the lesson that situation was trying to teach me. I tried to find the diamond lining. And there were a few.
The first lesson I learned was compassion. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, but that situation certainly put me to the test. It would have been easy for me to think purely of myself. It would have been easy to get angry with my driver for getting us lost. But how would that have made either of us feel better? Instead of getting pissed off and turning into a diva, I looked for an opportunity to be compassionate and put myself in his shoes. He didn’t want to drive forty-five minutes in the wrong direction and upset his passenger. He tried as best he could to get me where I needed to be, but he made a mistake. As we all do. We make lots of them.
We’ve got to be compassionate toward others-especially other women. I think many of us are quick to judge or go on emotion, but it’s so important to put yourself in someone else’s Jimmy Choos and try to understand where she is coming from. In every situation, especially the challenging ones, you must ask yourself, How can I be better?
Another lesson learned? Things do not always go as planned. We have to make room for imperfection in our lives. Those imperfect moments are the moments we grow the most. Can you imagine how boring life would be if everything always went the way we expected it to? A little turbulence is a good thing-in life and on the plane. It shakes us up (literally), and it makes us feel something. And when we get through it, we feel like a rock star.
GIRL CODE: Secret Embrace the imperfect moments. Look for lessons. In every situation, especially the challenging ones, you must ask yourself,
How can I be better? How can I grow? Commit to finding your diamond lining.
Excerpted from Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Cara Alwill Leyba, 2017.