Practicing What I Preach: The Ultimate QBQ!

I missed my flight. There is nothing more frustrating than sprinting through an airport, and though truly no fault of your own, coming smack up against a closed door at your gate.

It has always been ironic to me that we conduct in live, interactive “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” sessions all around the country, and then head to airports. With airlines. And delays. Hot beds of frustration, anger, and where the worst in people can come out.

Sadly, today was one of those days for me. It all started last night around 11pm when my airline cancelled my flight home from Louisville to my home in Madison*, WI. After almost 90 minutes on the phone, (83 of those minutes spent listening to advertisements and irritating music), I had a new flight on a different airline at an earlier time. I figured it was a blessing in disguise, getting me home to my children and husband two hours earlier than planned. I went to bed past midnight tired, but glad to have that settled.

I had a blast this morning speaking for Pizza Hut on QBQ! and facilitating discussion around ideas like, “Stress is a choice,” “Asking better questions,” “Letting go of what we can’t control,” and other solid, true concepts. I spent more time than usual on the idea that stress is a choice. I must have subconsciously known I needed it …

I made my 1:24pm flight no problem. We landed on time in Detroit. And then the trouble began. We sat. And sat. And sat—waiting for a missing gate agent so we could park the plane and let us off. Here’s a summary of the extenuating circumstances that slammed together in this awful 30-minute window:

  • I originally only had a 35-minute connection. Tight, but doable.
  • The gate agent didn’t show for 20 minutes after we landed, eating into my connection time.
  • I wasn’t assertive enough to push my way from row 15 to get off the plane faster.
  • I landed at gate B8. I had to get to A21. If you’ve been to Detroit, you know this is a LONG trek.
  • I am not a runner and definitely not in shape enough to full-out sprint, with a roller bag and laptop bag. But I did my best and jogged most of the way.
  • I needed three moving walkways, two escalators, and many long hallways to make this trip.

I got to my gate at 3:15 for a 3:25pm flight. They had already closed the doors! Two other passengers rushed up shortly after me. I saw my shocked and stricken expression mirrored on their faces. We could not believe that the two gates hadn’t communicated and held the flight we were already booked on!

As I collapsed in frustration and exhaustion, actually yelling, “Nooooo!” and pounding on the jet bridge door (I didn’t say it was my most shining moment…), I had this vague memory of teaching “Stress is a choice!” with an upbeat smile just a few hours earlier. I had a nagging thought that I’d also taught this: There are times when we have to just throw up our hands and ask The Ultimate QBQ! which is, “How can I let go of what I can’t control?!”

So after pacing, pulling my hair, pleading with the gate agent, and even pulling the “I have to get home to my kids!” card, I settled down, accepted my fate, and quietly asked the QBQ, “How can I get past this?”

It’s amazing the freedom and release I experience when I choose to stop the complaining, stop the rehashing, stop the finger pointing and the blame, and just say, “Man, what a bummer. How can I make the best of this frustrating situation?”

If I hadn’t missed my flight, this blog never would have been written. The nice elderly man I smiled at later wouldn’t have been smiled at. I would not have had the chance to practice what I preach. And how could I be a good teacher if I didn’t have chances to put my words into action?

Personal Reflection:

What’s going on in your life that is outside of your control? How have you been responding? How would asking The Ultimate QBQ! help you?

*Kristin and her family now reside in Minneapolis, MN


8 Responses

  1. Hi Kristin! Tony from 2JR Pizza Hut here. So sorry your trip home was not a good one! You did a wonderful job connecting folks to what QBQ is all about and, despite the risks one runs when traveling in the air (and the fact you have very young children), we are so thankful you took the chance and spent the time with us!

    Now, as far as having to “practice what we preach” goes…in addition to my work here at Pizza Hut, I am the father of 5 wonderful children – 4 teens and a first grader!! While I am not always successful in practicing what I preach, you can be sure they give me plenty of chances to try again!

    I recently heard someone say that when you pray for something like patience, is it patience you get….or the opportunity to develop it?

    Again, enjoyed the day yesterday. Think the training was practical, foundational and its impact will be felt by many team members and customers! You’re AWESOME!


    1. Tony, so gad QBQ! went over so well with your team. Personal accountability is truly the right message at the right time. Thanks for letting Kristin come serve your people! And isn’t it great she worked at Pizza Hut in high school!!!

  2. Kristin,

    If you are booking your flights yourself, you might consider using a travel agent. A travel agent has saved my bacon more than once when flights were cancelled or delayed. I also didn’t have to spend hours on hold or in a long line. One time, when I called because a connecting flight was cancelled, I was booked and confirmed on the next flight to my destination in under a minute! Then the agent apologized for not being able to get me the same seat assignment I had on the original flight!! A great experience in a bad situation.

  3. I can feel your pain as this has happened to me at train stations before. It’s great to have the example of what you did after the disappointment, so we can all learn and realize that there’s always a lesson to be learned and a QBQ! Glad you made it home safely!

  4. This is SO funny for me as I had almost the same thing happen at the SAME AIRPORT. It was several years ago, I had “plenty of time” to eat and enjoy a big juicy burger after a long week of business travel. I earned it of course!

    Then I made quick moves to the gate only to find the DOOR CLOSED !!!! arrrgh. I too knocked on the door, however I was greeted with a (not smiling) attendant that told me if I did that one more time she would call security.

    Oops, I made arrangements without any anger or upset feelings (YEA RIGHT BUDDY) then I did what any fool that has missed a flight by their own error, I sat in the gate area for over an hour and was the first in line to board. Lesson learned.

    Thanks for sharing this was a great memory for me to relive!! Glad you made it home safe.

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