Last summer, my family took a monster 2 week vacation. My wife Melissa and I and our two youngest kids hopped in the minivan and headed west to visit the Rocky Mountains, Moab, and Yellowstone.
The night before our departure, we were getting all of our reservation information in one place. Our Yellowstone information was weird and confusing. We had made the reservation months earlier. I continued packing, periodically checking back with Melissa, who was sitting at the kitchen table with a furrowed brow. While trying to get directions, she found online notifications about how excited Yellowstone was to reopen that part of the park…a month AFTER our reservation. What was happening? Time slowed down for us as we tried to unravel the mystery. Buried in the spam folder, Melissa found it. The part of Yellowstone we were camping in had been closed as a pandemic measure to minimize the number of campers! They sent a single notification, months earlier. We’d missed it.
There is something in these moments when the ground seems to be shifting beneath your feet. It could be a diagnosis. A revelation. A realization. The curtain rises, drops, opens, closes; whatever it does, our brains do some variation of speeding up and slowing down. We sit with this information. Words come out of our mouths. We react.
We respond. It’s true, I think, that our response is the important part. As educators, we’ve become practiced in the idea of the “pivot.” Still, it can be a challenge.
In the end of our vacation story, we found an available cabin at a nearby KOA. We weren’t camping in Yellowstone. It cost more than we planned. There were some silver linings as well.
How do you respond to unexpected challenges?