Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it was four days ago but it’s one of my favorite holidays so I’m extending it a little longer in this blog.

 

I hope your holiday was shared with loved ones and friends. In my house it’s a special day to have a fire, drink coffee, watch parades, eat donuts, turkey/ham and tons of sides. We are sharing laughter, hugs, playing and watching football. Heck, some of us even squeeze a nap in when no one is watching.

 

Some of your family or perhaps you had to travel in order to be with family or friends for Thanksgiving. I have traveled in the past and some of those trips were filled with non-stop travel headaches. If you have read any of my blogs, then you know I am a huge movie guy. There is one film that makes me laugh every time as I watch the travel disasters unfold for Steve Martin (Neal Page) as he tries to make his way home for Thanksgiving. I am talking about John Hughes’s 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

 

 

Why is this movie so popular? I think people can relate to the movie for several reasons:

  1. Travel Is Not Glorious
  2. Maintaining A Positive Attitude Is Not Easy
  3. Life Is Always Easier With Someone

AND this movie is hilarious!!!

 

Travel Is Not Glorious

If you travel for work, then you know what it means to have your travel plans interrupted because of weather and broken transportation vehicles. These two variables can disrupt your schedule and leave you in a huge mess trying to find a new way to get to your destination location. I’ve slept in airports, shared vehicles with strangers, changed tires on the side of the road and stayed in some very sketchy hotels to avoid sleeping in my car. The movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles does a fantastic job showing how a simple plan to fly home from a business trip for Thanksgiving can be completely hijacked. The movie does an awesome job on showing how some stay calm, others freak out and everyone is trying to find alternate ways to get home. I think this movie really hits home for me because of my dad. He traveled 50% of the time and had so many stories when he got home. He would sometimes arrive in the middle of the night after jumping on multiple planes or renting a car. My Dad jumped through tons of hoops so he could be at every important event for my sister and me. When I watch Steve Martin’s passion to get home to his family, it reminds me of my dad. I know many of us make tons of sacrifices to have a career, and most of our families have no idea how hard it really is to make it all work when traveling. We travel so we can do our jobs and we grab the red eye home so we can be there for our loved ones. Trust me, your family will always remember you being there for them. I know I still do!

 

Maintaining A Positive Attitude Is Not Easy

I know we are supposed to have a good attitude as leaders but it’s REALLY hard to do when problems keep coming from all angles. The movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles show how Steve Martin’s character, Neil Page, becomes more and more unraveled during his travel trials. Throughout the journey, Steve Martin finds himself being paired up with John Candy (Del). These two are total opposites. Have you ever been paired up with someone that makes you cringe? If they are sitting next to you, don’t head nod! The two characters are forced to work together and trust each other. Together they actually do make a good team and somehow even build a friendship.

 

 

This movie shows how working through a difficult situation can truly test your patience and even cause you to lose your filters. I’ve been there and nothing makes my blood boil more than someone who provides poor customer service. There is one scene in the movie where Steve Martin is trying to rent a car for the second time since his first rental was stolen. He is left in the middle of nowhere where he has to walk all the way back to the airport terminal. He finally arrives and the lady behind the car rental counter is on the phone talking to her sister about getting together for Thanksgiving. At this point of the movie, Steve Martin has been through a lot and he has lost all of his filters. The language is very extreme in this scene but captures the moment of him losing his mind because of the stress. I have never had this moment, out loud, but I am guilty as well of losing it during a stressful situation. I am not going to act like it’s easy to maintain a positive attitude during a stressful one but try your best. People are watching and you don’t want to be that person who regrets their behavior because the moment fogged your judgement. You will be tested and I think you can still correct poor customer service when it happens but don’t ruin your reputation while doing it.

 

Life Is Always Easier With Someone

During this movie, Steve Martin is trying his best to get home but he keeps hitting roadblocks. The one person who keeps trying to help him is John Candy, Del. These two are opposites in every way but they keep finding ways to work together. There are many awkward and stressful moments during their journey that make this movie hilarious every time I watch it. There is no way this can really happen in life, right? You bet it can! I once was traveling in college to New York for internship interviews with a group of students. We got paired up with a roommate since New York hotels are very expensive. When my roommate and I got to our room we discovered there was only one bed. I didn’t really care till we went to bed and he got in with only his tighty-whiteys. I went to bed that night thinking about this movie and the hilarious scene where Steve Martin & John Candy shared a bed. The famous wakeup scene with the words “Those aren’t pillows!” I didn’t have that happen but I thought for sure it might.

 

 

In the end, both Steve Martin & John Candy learned what it meant to go through a trial with someone else. Life is hard and no one should have to do it alone. I’m very grateful for the friendships and family who been there for me as life has thrown some serious curve balls. I know it might feel easier to do life alone but it’s a lie. I know others can stress you out especially when the circumstances keep changing for the worse. Remember to attack the problem not the people trying to help you. We all need to take time to show love, respect and kindness to those who are trying to help us during a difficult situation.

 

In conclusion, watch this movie and try to take it all in for the good life lessons taught. No one is perfect and we all are trying to conquer the foreseen obstacles that hit us from time to time. We believe at the Impact of Leadership that business leaders need a safe place to share their stress so they can feel supported by others.

 

You are not alone!

 

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