As a meeting planner, I encountered countless stressful situations, snafus and lots of challenging times. However, nothing can compare to what happened one Tuesday morning in September. I, along with many others, I suspect, had to rethink, reassess or redo some aspect of their normal tasks in light of the tragedy that unfolded that fateful day.
"Nine-eleven" brought about one of the most profound experiences I had as a meeting planner. While on route to San Antonio, TX to advance company-sponsored events and client meetings, as part of a national conference the company was participating in, I found myself (among thousands of others) stranded in Dallas early that morning awaiting a connecting flight when I learned the airport was being locked down to any further air traffic due to the indescribable cataclysm unfolding in New York City and elsewhere. It was my faith and my ability to focus on the present that helped keep me on track as I worked through the next steps.
After calls to family to let them know where I was and that I was safe, I realized very quickly a couple of things: 1) I needed to leave the airport ASAP; and 2) I needed to find a place to stay—a home base to think and work from—because in all likelihood I would not be going on to San Antonio, nor would I be going back to Minnesota any time soon. I knew from past experience that when events around me seemed to be spinning out of control, I needed to not just react, but to step back as soon as possible and reassess the situation. So, my next call was to corporate travel to book a hotel room from where I would await word on the status of the conference (it was later postponed), begin to reconstruct my own plan and eventually chart my journey back home. It wasn’t until I was settled at the hotel a few hours later that I actually became aware of the significance of what had happened that morning.