At the Boarding Counter – Panic and Abundance


Imagine it’s February 1, and you are sitting at the gate, waiting for your already-delayed flight to leave for Orlando and a long-awaited break.  You’re reading a cheap novel, when you start to overhear people at the counter.  “I’ve already been bumped once.  You can’t do this to me!” says one angry soul.  “Sir, we’re overbooked, but I’m sure I can get you on.”  “You better.”  Another pair of voices, “M’am, we have the same seat assignment on our boarding passes.”  “I’m sorry” the gate attendant says kindly, “we’ve had a little trouble with our computer, and this has happened a couple times.  Let me see your boarding passes.”  You exchange anxious looks with an older woman across from you and check your boarding pass, realizing it’s not going to tell you if it’s a duplicate.  You try to tune out the still-angry man, who’s “already been bumped once,” and is now saying, “even if your incompetent airline has to take someone’s boarding pass back, you better get me on that flight.”  “Sir, we’re going to take care of you,” the gate attendant says.  “Right!” says a woman in a velvet track suit, “Like you did to me when you called me up here and told me my online seat assignment wouldn’t be honored.”  You look around.  No one has their nose in a book any more.  People who were sitting are now standing, people standing are edging closer to the boarding counter, where there is now a line of six people.  The man across from you says, “I’ve got my seat assignment, but my wife was meeting me and she’s late, and they wouldn’t give me her pass, cuz she has to check in with photo ID; those damned terrorists are still screwing us over.”  You wonder: What are the chances I’m going to get to Orlando tonight?

That to me is just like the health care debate right now.  Hurried conditions.  Uncertainty.  Apparent scarcity.  A couple people vocally and angrily express their fears and soon a contagion of fear and scarcity-thinking tears through the “boarding area” of the country watching health care reform.  Downsizing companies can feel that way, too.  The same flames of fear can leap through a crowd of adults at a senior-parents college night or at a pre-season tryout meeting, ignited by a highly emotional critic who says “I know for a fact that school [or coach] has their own private list of who gets in.”   A job-application line can feel the same way.  Scarcity + vocal anger = waves of panic.  And, man, does everybody’s work get hard as their minds “flood” with emotion.

Have you ever tried working when someone is yelling at you?    

In the future, I plan to write about what the “authorized leader” (the ticket agent, coach, teacher, job provider, congressman) might do in such circumstances.  But today I want to suggest a different point for ALL of us as leading-followers.  What if we came from a standpoint not of scarcity but of abundance?  What might we come up with?  Here’s a partial list of our health care abundance.  If we can somehow cultivate our awareness of it, I believe, we can radically change our problem solving ability:

  1. We have phenomenal health care systems: nurses, doctors, meds, processes, hospitals, alternative approaches, IT systems, and excellent for- and not-for-profit organizations.  America is rich with capability.
  2. We have a fantastic representative democracy with people we have elected, an imperfect system that’s grown for over two centuries; we have forums, multiple media outlets, blogs, and countless other ways to talk, listen, and where helpful, to vote.  Our democracy has (we have) proven again: we’re alive and well!
  3. Brilliant researchers – in universities, think tanks, foundations, corporations, etc., and rich data that gets better every single day.
  4. Examples to study throughout the world.  Finally,
  5. The ability to shift to an abundance mentality: focus on what we can do, rather than the myriad ways we’ll fall short of perfect cost-containment, perfect access, and perfect improvement.

Imagine the different kind of problem solving we’d have: at tryouts, at job application lines, at down-sizing companies, and in our health care reform efforts if we came first from a sense of abundance!  How might you shift the way you’re looking at your situations – to emphasize capability first – as you

Lead with your best self!







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