Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Remembering the Airplane Landed

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - I arrived in Vienna yesterday, and had the worst travel day I've ever had, starting with finding my luggage to be lost upon landing in Austria. Over the course of the day, though, I did learn a very important about placing value on the things that really matter. As a bit of context, here's why my day was so difficult:

- My luggage was lost - It took me almost 1.5 hours to find my hostel after getting off the subway - I couldn't check into my hostel until 2pm (I landed at around 10am) - I don't speak a lick of German, so It was very hard to talk with people - I found out late in the day that the following day was a holiday, so I had to make my limited amount of Euros last until I could go to the bank. (I'm trying to avoid ATMs because of the fees) - The internet connection in the hostel was crummy so it was hard to communicate back home and wrap-up the school-related things I needed to do. Beyond that, it was difficult to communicate with the airline about my lost luggage - The lobby of my hostel was smokey - I lost my map, and had to scrape it together with a poorly drawn map in a tourist magazine and maps at bus stops to get back to my hostel - Like a buffoon, I didn't pack my toiletries in my carry-on bag, so all I had was a travel toothbrush - It wasn't worth it to take a shower, because I didn't have clean clothes or a towel - After all this, for dinner I ordered a pizza with anchovies on it, without realizing it. This would've been fine, except as it turns out, I can't stand the taste of anchovies

But I learned a lesson while talking to one of my bunk-mates, an 18 year old Russian girl taking a trip before starting college. She was surprised that I was in fairly good spirits, even though I was in a less-than-ideal situation.

Losing my luggage was out of my control, I told her, so why worry? But as she asked me more questions, I realized the real reason why I wasn't too stressed:

Despite every frustration I had yesterday, my plane still landed safely, and that was the only outcome of the day that truly mattered.

It was an important lesson in life and leadership. You always have to remember to focus on what matters and put your effort toward that. It's easy to get caught up in the small stuff, but you can't let it distract you from what truly matters.

In the case of an airline, it doesn't matter if you're luggage is never lost if you're planes aren't safe. As a husband, it doesn't matter if you can provide your family the money to live lavishly if what they truly need is your love and your time.

Focusing on the outcomes that truly matter and seeing beyond the outcomes that don't is an important lesson. It's also a valuable skill that the greatest leaders I've ever met all possess.