You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Aug 12, 2023

A fire alarm…

Let me backtrack a little first.  I was leading an event for a fantastic group of high achievers in West Des Moines yesterday.  The energy was high.  The connections were great.  Conversation was so good during the breakout sessions that the background music was drowned out.  It was truly a remarkable morning.

With ten minutes to go, as I was bringing it all home with the last big strategy of the morning, the fire alarm went off.  Seriously.  Ten minutes left.  Fire alarm.  Exit the building.

I don’t know about you…

But I try to plan for contingencies.  I try to make a list of what might happen and be ready.  For example- having multiple copies of my presentation, extra power cords, adapters, chargers, mints, something to drink, the whole checklist.  And to also have a few different routes I can take the presentation if necessary.  If we need to pivot. Or if some people don’t show up.  You get it.

Part of this comes from my training as a pilot as you have to be ready for whatever might happen when you are in the air and things don’t go according to plan.  Because you can’t simply pull the plane to the side of the road and see what is going on.  And in the midst of a presentation, you have to keep going even if adversity strikes.

I felt like I was well-prepared…

But I didn’t have fire alarm on my list of contingencies.  If you had asked me about 20 things that I might need to plan for yesterday morning, fire alarm would not have made the list.

Here’s the thing- that is life!  Stuff is going to happen.  Unforeseen issues are going to constantly bother us and mess up our plans.  The question is this- what will we do about it?

So why did the fire alarms go off?  Contractors were cutting countertops in one of the floors above us and it set the alarm off.  Countertops.  No fire.  Just a disruption.  Just a group of about 50 people standing outside wondering what the heck is going on.

Adversity is life…

It’s what we do with the adversity that says a lot about who we are!  Adversity is going to come at us.

This particular adversity was a new one for me.  And, i think, for most of us.  And here is why it worked out-

  1. I hadn’t attached rigidly to an outcome.  This is often where adversity shakes us the most.
  2. I knew what I wanted to say but had some wiggle room and some contingencies planned.
  3. I made light of the situation and eased the tension of the uncertainty of a fire alarm.
  4. We finished strong as a group united by the experience

Disruption is all around us…

You can be prepared.  Or you can think you are prepared.  And it is prudent to try to be prepared.  But you aren’t prepared for everything.  And you never will be.

Be flexible.  Have a plan but be ready to pivot.  Don’t attach rigidly to an outcome so that you aren’t crushed when it doesn’t work out.  Believe in you and your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.  Because some amazing blessings can come in the pivot.

So the next time…

The next time that your plans change… be flexible.  Family vacations may not go as you planned.  Sunday dinner may not go as you planned.  A tough conversation my not go as you planned.  Your relaxing Sunday afternoon may not go as you planned.

In the midst of changing plans, stop.  Take a couple deep breaths.  And then move forward.  You may find incredible blessings in the pivot.  And through the lens of time and the wisdom of looking backwards, you may discover this was the best thing that could have happened!

Bottom line is that we were back in the room about five minutes after we left.  I had promised a hard stop time and we were right up against it.  I asked if we could go a few minutes over and, because of the energy in the room, we all agreed.  And, in the process we learned a valuable strategy.  If things aren’t going the way you had hoped or planned, step outside into the sun for a few minutes.  The sun on your forehead, the natural vitamin D. And these other benefits. It does a wonder for your mental state.  And it lifted all of us!

All in all, even with the fire alarm, we learned to #WINtheNOW.

If adversity seems to keep creeping into your life and you feel stuck, let’s have a conversation to learn some resiliency!


  1. Diana Crook

    Made a decision recently. A very difficult decision. A Life changing decision. One that was made based on my Christian Faith. My Love of Family.. A decision between right & wrong . When one door shuts, others open . Guided down the path of Life by our God Almighty. Standing up for what is right can feel uncomfortable. Unless a decision is based on conviction, weighing the pros & cons . So Deeply Heartfelt that no other decision is the right one, but the one you chose.

    • Eric Recker

      I am proud of you Diana! Sounds like a brutally challenging decision! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Juli White

    BEST post yet!!!! As always fantastic advice!! Perfect “flow” and fluid thoughts put to paper. It’s been fun watching you grow as a writer. You make this old retired teacher smile 😊

    • Eric Recker

      Thank you so much Juli! I appreciate your encouragement on the journey!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *