An off day, what do you do? (hint: it’s about personal leadership!)

Personal Leadership to find the flowDo you ever have one of those days that go completely into the opposite direction of what you had in plan for the day?

Last Friday was such a day for me.

The day started as planned with my daily walk, which still is the perfect day starter for me. I delayed it a bit to be able to walk in between two rain showers, so that was perfect. Then back at my desk I prepared for a video interview with Elke Jeurissen and Cato Léonard of Glassroots.

This was an interview I was really looking forward to. This duo video interview fits perfectly in the transformation the Collaborative Business Podcast is currently undergoing and knowing Elke and Cato it promised to be fun. Elke and Cato wrote a book about stakeholder engagement with the spicy titel “Vreemdgaan voor managers” which freely translated means “Cheating for managers”.

I was ready to grab another cup of coffee, when I found out that the coffee machine did not work; this was the beginning of a massive power outage in our region.

No power, no coffee,
No power, no internet, no interview!

Such an event makes one realize how dependent we are on electricity. Nothing worked, not only in my homeoffice, but also not in the streets: traffic lights did not work, trains would not go, planes could not land, everything was disturbed!

Despite the dropping intermittent mobile phone signals, my youngest daughter managed to send me a text message stating that the train would not go due to the lack of power and if I could bring her to work. What do you do as a father with a schedule that suddenly completely changed? You get in your 17 year old hobby named Volvo, which is luckily not dependent on electricity, and you bring your daughter to her work!

After beating traffic and upon returning to my desk two hours later, the electricity was back in operation and my business day was ready for a restart. However, a faint dripping sound kept me from restarting. Something was leaking and a little investigation turned out that our central heating system had a serious problem. Our local specialist was on the road but promised to drive by as soon as possible.

I needed to concentrate as I had to write a text that was due this day, but this was not quite the ideal ramp up towards a task that requires concentration. I would not directly call it an off day, but still, intervention was needed to get back on track and I realized that I needed to do something to get back into the flow and concentration. What to do?

A walk is an excellent way to get back in the flow, but the specialist would drop by for the central heating so leaving the house was not an option this time. Hence I turned on the music and listened to two of my all time favorites by Dave Brubeck: Tangerine and Brandenburg Gate. After that I wrote my text, in the flow and still on time.

Being able to correct yourself and adjust course given changing circumstances should be an essential element of your personal leadership. Walking and music are two of the proven recipes to get me back in the flow whenever needed.

What would you do?