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HRL All The Way Home

Updated: Apr 30

I love the Maxwell Conferences!  I always learn and find things I can take action on.  It

literally renews and lights my fire to lead well.  We (Brian and I and 2500 Maxwell friends) spent the whole week of the conference in March learning how to be a High Road Leader (HRL) and how not to live in what John Maxwell calls “The People Pile”.  Brian and I traveled to Florida for this conference with our daughter, Mandy.  Before we left, we decided to shorten our trip by 2 days so we could get back home to help my mom as she prepares to move.  Seemed like a good plan at the time we made it.  It did cost a little bit to change our flight, but we knew it would still be less than what it would cost to stay there.  That was our logic anyway.

Again…. All in all it seemed like a good idea to adjust our plans.

On Sunday, the day after the conference wound up, we checked out of the hotel after a leisurely breakfast and checked our bags with the concierge and headed off to Disney Springs for lunch and a couple of hours of wandering in the Florida sun.  On our way back to the hotel to grab our bags, the first notification delaying our flight by 2 hours arrived.  

Apparently, something happened in several major airports to create delays and cancellations of flights on Saturday.  That meant 3 hours in line to get through security to process thousands of passengers who had been displaced the day before - as well as those trying to get to their destinations as planned on Sunday.  All this to say, our flight - and it’s connection in Chicago Midway – were delayed by 2 hours.   

Ok. So we get back into Nebraska at 1 AM on Monday.  We can deal.  After all, we want to be HRLs.  We thanked the crazed drivers and frantic ticket agents - especially the one who said to take the flights as adjusted or we would not be able to get out of Orlando and home to Nebraska until Tuesday.  Tuesday.  We definitely wanted to stay on track to get home.  So we went through security - the TSA agents had been doubling up all day and were still doing a great job of getting people to their flights.  Again.  HRLs show appreciation and lift others up - especially those that have just put in 14 hours of work in a less than friendly environment.

We checked out the gate and decided a leisurely dinner at an airport restaurant would be the next best thing to do.  Hmmm.  Flights delayed - again.  And then the jetway had a problem.  It was still all fine.  After all, our connecting flight had also changed time and it looked like we’d have at least 25 minutes to connect in Chicago.  The ticket agent had assured us that we could do it in 20 if we had to.  The clocked ticked by and we changed gates to a jetway that worked. After a bit more waiting we realized, there is no way we are getting to Omaha on our original flight.  After a bit of a friendly chat - still living into the High Road Leaders we want to be - at 11:30 PM it was officially called.  There is no way to get to Omaha until Tuesday morning.  

We rebooked.  Not much else we could do.  Cars weren’t even available to rent and we couldn’t get to Omaha any faster by trying to fly into another airport for a connecting flight.  It’s ok.  Time to find a hotel - and oh, by the way, our luggage would probably get to Omaha ahead of us. Not having anticipated getting stuck without luggage at the end of a trip, we had packed it all and trustingly handed it off to the Ticket Agent.  Ok.  We can deal with finding fresh clothes for the next 36 hours in the morning.  Right now, we needed a place to sleep.

Spring break in Florida means hotel rooms are in high demand.

As the 3 of us stood in the airport trying to find a place to stay - for less than $500 a night - took a bit.  I found a Hampton Inn downtown - and breakfast would be provided in the morning.  15 minutes later a chatty Lyft driver provided us with interesting tidbits about downtown life and a near by Target (less than a mile away from the hotel) and dropped us at the door.  Andre, the gentleman checked us in, and handed us a couple of room keys and a paper bag full of white toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss.  Good hygiene was not going to be a problem. Lol  

After a good night sleep in our clothes, and a hearty hot breakfast, we began a walk to the downtown Target.  We laughed as we hunted for clothes that fit and we would be willing to wear again.  The hilarity increased as Brian gave up on Mandy and I - we shop slower than he does apparently - and he toured the store.  An outfit each.  Check.  Underwear?  Run and get something. Check.  Socks? Over there. Check.  PJs? Mandy said Definitely!  We are a tight family but there are limitations. Check.  A few hygiene items like deodorant - Check.  A heaping cart later - oh and a bag to carry the new clothes home in - and I watched Brian slip a bottle of wine and some lunch onto the conveyor belt.  We laughed more and decided a Lyft/Uber back to the hotel would be a good idea.

We sat by the pool while the clothes we’d worn the day before were being washed and dried - the only people by the pool because it was only 73 degrees - Perfect to our Nebraska blood! - We enjoyed our lunch and began catching up on email and work.  

We did get back to Omaha on Tuesday morning.  Our luggage was waiting for us and we figured the whole thing cost us far more than we would’ve spent if we had just followed our original plan.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Being a High Road Leader is always a choice

I share this ridiculous story because we each knew we had learned something at our conference - Being a High Road Leader is always a choice.  And whenever things go astray and we begin to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, tired and cranky, the choice for how we focus on things and treat other people is just that - a choice.  So much was not in our circles of control, yet we made the most of what we had and could do, and we came home with an appreciation and a story about applying the principles of High Road Leadership.

Everything Rises and falls on Leadership

Two things help us to rise in leadership: leadership skills and good values.  One cannot be  substituted one for the other.  Both must exist.  John asked 2 questions during out HRL session: Are the people better off because you are the leader?  Are you a plus in their life or a minus in their life?  Leaders have the power to make or break people.  

The people in my story had been blamed, yelled at and treated as though they were personally responsible for all of the problems occurring.  Trust me, we aren’t saints, yet we choose to make the best of a situation and just enjoy whatever opportunities came open and we met a lot of great people along the way.   It gives me an opportunity to know I have HRL in me. Now I must continue practicing it.

Want to learn more about what it takes to be a High Road Leader?  Go to and scroll to the bottom.  This is one of those books we will be using, applying and providing opportunities to set others up to be High Road Leaders.

Thanks for reading through our story.  Make it a high road day!

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