Today I am writing this blog from a coffee shop.
Today at 9 am, my girlfriend and I met up for our traditional Thursday morning coffee - before we drove separately to our respective offices, 20 miles apart. All went well for the brief amount of time that we spent together; we talked, we laughed, and we shared a few smooches. We said goodbye, I exited her car and entered my own vehicle. I looked at the time, and realized I had an extra 5-10 minutes to start my normal routine early: Read a Chapter of the Bible, read a chapter of an inspirational / educational book (I'm reading The ONE Thing by Gary Keller right now), and if time permits, read a few articles from the Wall Street Journal. In this case, I only got to items one and two, before it was time to leave for my next appointment, scheduled for 10 am.
It was then that I realized that I left my car keys in my girlfriend's car.
Had I dealt with this problem before the EPIC summer that I had, I probably would have laid down in front of my car and cried. Seriously. Sometimes in the past if things don't go exactly according to the silly plan that I generate in my mind, I get a aggravated and don't make the best decisions. But in this case, I started laughing. Not that I wasn't concerned - this certainly would have put a big dent in my workday, but it wasn't that bad. Also, given the tragic issues that many people are dealing with today (hurricanes, earthquakes, famine and wars), this was a walk in the park.
But the secret ingredient of what kept me calm was this: I had a backup plan.
You hear about it from computer professionals all the time - always backup your data. You may do this on your computers, but do you do it for yourself? In other words, do you have the information you need, when you need it, anywhere?
The good news in this case was that I did have my backup plan. I always keep my laptop on my person wherever I go - even if it's camping in the middle of the woods without wifi. Obviously I have my phone and sometimes I have my tablet. And in this case I also got lucky in that I only had one appointment today, which I immediately called and apologetically rescheduled with the very gracious individual. I then called my girlfriend and we had a laugh about it. We discussed a few options for getting me back up and running, and in the end I decided to not waste $60 to Lyft or Uber it over to her work to pickup the keys. Nor did I want to inconvenience my girlfriend. Instead, my Mom - who works 15 minutes away from this coffee shop - will drop off my spare set of keys that she can pick up from my home office on the way to work. (Mom always to the rescue! :-) I gotta think of something nice to do for her in return.) Later today, my girlfriend will return my keys when she's back in the area.
One of my favorite movies is called Heist, with Gene Hackman, Danny Devito, and Delroy Lindo. In one of my favorite scenes, Hackman says "I wouldn't tie my shoes without a backup plan." I wouldn't say I am always like this, but when I am things roll a little smoother. And as time goes on, I realize that we as humans don't necessarily have to plan for every possible potential disaster - only the most likely ones, and ones that can be easily preventable with just a few small steps. In this case, I was happy to have my laptop with me, so that I could stay in communication with my team and my clients, and remain productive and focused until I was able to return to my regular routine.
Another element of disaster planning is to recognize that plans change over time. It's a good idea to review and revise the plans over time, to account for any shifts in issues that could arise. In this way, it's important to regularly revisit the plan, perhaps once or twice a year. This habit can also become an exercise in creativity, in that you can think through any interesting, unforseen issues that you can easily avoid, usually by applying simple fixes.
In the end, $#!+ happens. And no matter how much we plan, we're always going to run into problems that take us away from the reality we wish for ourselves, but if we plan ahead, keep calm and continue to move steadily forward, most of the time things will work out. And if I can add this, saying a little prayer always tends to help me.
Lest you question my productivity today - since my little disaster, I have been able to speak with my team via Skype, call two valued clients, buy a canoe from a friend of mine, write this blog, adjust the settings on a website domain with my awesome Executive Assistant, promote Rockland Web Design on Social Media, have a very useful discussion with a contact that posts valuable SEO-rich articles on Inc.com, review the team workflow plan for development of a Wordpress site for a new client, and even take a coffee break.
Oops - gotta go! My Mom is pulling up with my backup set of keys!