The Best Laid Plans

Desk with notebook, pen, and t-square tools

Recently, I forgot my wallet in my downtown office. It was a Friday, so leaving it there until Monday was a bit of an inconvenience. It was locked away in a cabinet, so I wasn’t concerned about theft. However, not having my driver’s license, bank cards, and other cards was frustrating. At first I berated myself a bit for being forgetful, but I quickly set about devising a solution.

It was then I remembered that my kids needed to go to a film shoot near my office on Saturday. Perfect! I’ll drive them there, take Julie along for a “date,” and swing by my office to get the wallet. It would be a convenient side trip.

Julie doesn’t like to drive in downtown Minneapolis, so we decided to park at a train station near the film-shoot location and ride into downtown together. I grabbed my spare transit pass for Julie, my own transit pass, and my building security card. We hopped on the train and relaxed for a few minutes. Julie and I enjoy most any excuse just to sit and chat, so it really was like a date.

Fifteen minutes later we got off the train and walked a couple blocks to my office tower. It was a beautiful day. We enjoyed the weather, walking, and talking. We rode the elevator up to my floor, scanned my security card at the lobby, and entered the office.

I showed Julie around a bit because we had recently reconfigured the office space and I am in a new location. We ran into a couple coworkers and I introduced Julie.

Then we went to my desk to retrieve the wallet locked away in a cabinet—the goal of the journey (and excuse for time with Julie).

I got to my desk. Stared at my cabinet and realized…

I don’t have the key for the cabinet! It’s in the car back at the train station.

There was absolutely nothing I could do.

I decided very quickly that going back for the key and returning wouldn’t be worth the time to do so. I had invested enough time into this (failed) solution, but now it was time to move on to other priorities. I was resigned to driving my car extra carefully (so as not to get stopped by police and caught without my license). I didn’t need to make any purchases with my bank cards that we couldn’t use Julie’s cards for. I could certainly do without my library and other miscellaneous cards.

It was just a bit frustrating.

So I carried on with my plan for the rest of the day.

A humorous element of this failed plan is that Sunday night I realized I had missed another opportunity to retrieve my wallet. I drove very near my office early Sunday afternoon but the wallet issue never crossed my mind.

Sometimes our project plans are poorly executed, forgetting to “secure the keys to the solution.”

Sometimes perfectly good alternatives are right in front of us, but we never see them.

Part of the measure of a good leader is in how we respond to these situations and whether we learn from them.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at] with your questions.

Photo by Jeff Sheldon. Photo available at Unsplash under CC0 license. Image modified for size and space.

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