When life gives you lemons, make pizza!

By Todd Liles When life gives you lemons, make pizza!
When life gives you lemons

The best planning will not keep away every bad situation.  Life is going to send you troubles.  How you react to those troubles will determine how other people view your leadership skills.  In our recent Service Manager Series, my leadership was put to the test.  Here’s our story.  RELATED – Classroom Training

With 20 minutes before lunch, I stepped out of the room to check on setup.  Shannon (my wife, superstar, and event coordinator) was in the hallway.  She was on the phone, and while I couldn’t hear her, I could see her.  Her face was flushed, and she looked panicked.

“What’s wrong?” – me

“The deli got the day wrong?  They said the best they could do was to be here by 12:30.  That’s the best, but they can’t guarantee it.” – Shannon

“Oh.  Well, that’s not good.” – me

“I checked the dates, and spoke with them yesterday!” – Shannon

“OK.  Let’s pull an audible.  Call up the Pizza Garden and see if they can seat us last minute.  Don’t worry.  This is not your fault.  Right now we need to focus on solutions, and not worry about the bad situation.  I’ll be back in 5 minutes.” – me

I gave Shannon 5 minutes to call the Pizza Garden, and BOOM!  Problem solved.  They were able to get us into a private room, and we had an amazing experience away from the training location.

This may seem like an obvious thing to do.  Just make different plans, it’s no big deal!  Right?

Well, I wish I could tell you that it was just that easy.  But it wasn’t.  It wasn’t easy at all.  As a matter of fact, it has taken years of constant work to get to the point where our team can move so smoothly.  We’ve had some serious challenges we have worked on, and moved past.  That quick reaction to a bad situation is a by-product of hard work and intentional thinking.

How to make the best out of a bad situation

It is not about blame

My personality score is a 99% Driver, coupled with a 67% Cautious score.  I can assure you that it is in my natural communication style to hate the unexpected.  If you suffer from a similar personality style, then you know how easy it is to blame someone for this problem.  RELATED – Get your DISC Profiles

Blaming others for a problem doesn’t get the problem solved.  All it does is upset others, and makes the situation worse.

The goal is the same

The goal never changes.  We are here to give Power and Hope through ethical training.  (You thought I was going to say feed the class, right?  Well, there’s that too.)

The bad situation gave us an opportunity to demonstrate our training and philosophy in real life.  We could have melted down right there on the spot, or we could adjust.  Just like a good service manager must do.

See things through a positive filter

When a bad situation happens, you have 2 choices as a leader:

  • focus and communicate the situation only as a negative or,
  • focus and communicate the positives of the situation.

We chose to focus on the positives, and the experience was amazing!

After Shannon saved the day with a quick reservation, I stepped into the room and explained what happened.  I also communicated to the class how quickly Shannon jumped into action.  As a whole, it created a positive experience, when it could have easily been negative.

Transform the negative

Upon returning to the training center, the students thanked Shannon for picking such a great place for lunch.  Several of the students spent the entire week with us.  For them, getting away from the training center was a nice change of pace.  Not to mention the Pizza was great!

This unexpected trouble turned into one of the highlights of the event.  It was such a positive experience, that we will use the Pizza Garden as a special treat for future students!

Question:  How have you turned lemons into pizza?  Share on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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