It's All Going to Work Out!
Steps to Take When Life Throws You a Curve Ball
It’s happened to all of us. We’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s and micromanaged every piece of the trade show to perfection. What could go wrong?! Right? Wrong! Inevitably, some minor (or major) mishap will cause a kink in your plans: part of a shipment got lost, the exhibit is held up in customs, someone put a forklift through one of your boxes. While these are concerns and they have to be handled, they are no reason to panic.
Panic always makes things worse. Physically, panic wreaks havoc with your body, causing your heart to race, your stomach to get queasy, your breathing to be too rapid, your palms to sweat. Emotionally, it causes fear. Your mind races to the worst-case scenario and distracts you by thinking of that instead of a real solution to the real problem.
Instead of succumbing to panic, try to approach the situation using the following steps:
1. Slow down. If possible, don’t react immediately. This will keep you from overreacting, i.e., panicking.
2. Breathe. No, seriously. Try to calm your mind and heart by breathing so that you can assess what to do next.
3. Focus on the truth of the situation. Ok, the forklift went through the box. What are the next steps? Find out the damage. Make a phone call. What next? Just keep asking yourself, “What is the next step I need to take?” Focusing on the next step is infinitely better than focusing on the “what if.”
4. Which leads to . . . never ask “what if.” “What if we can’t replace it and the whole exhibit is ruined and we don’t make sales and I lose my job?!” I think you can see how fruitless this is.
5. Focus on one goal at a time. Solve one problem, then the next one, then the next.
6. Take care of yourself. This is important because you could have a long day/night ahead of you depending on the size of the challenge. Do you need water? A bite to eat? To sit down? You probably DON’T need more caffeine, so try to limit that.
As you calmly and professionally assess and handle whatever problems arise, you will find that answers appear before you. When you’re calm, you can think of solutions and possibilities. You will remember that your exhibit supplier might know a vendor who can print a new graphic to replace the ruined one. You will remember that you have a savvy MacGuyver on your team who could rig up a fix for a structural problem. You will think of alternatives for items stuck in customs and lost in shipment.
So, the next time you find yourself in a bind before a trade show and you’re tempted to panic, take a deep breath and don’t. Gather your team, brainstorm solutions, and get to work like you always do. .