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I saw one of our participants last week wearing a t-shirt that read, “The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude.” I not only like that, but I would strongly agree with it. There are a lot of sayings and phrases about “attitude” and the impact it has on people’s lives. Traveling can be somewhat of an ordeal, especially business travel. But, I’ve always thought of travel as an adventure and that is probably why I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I graduated from college. My first job out of college was as a tour guide. This job took me all over the United States, including Hawaii, and I even got to go on a couple of cruises to the Bahamas. Twenty years later, I’m still living out of a suitcase and going strong. I do a heck of a lot of travel as a Professional Staff Instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute, Inc. I’d like to share some of my “adventures” from the past twenty years.


I traveled to Saipan two years ago. Saipan is an American territory in the Pacific Ocean. It is very close to Guam. I did an on-site training for employees of the Department of Health and Community Guidance Center. The ordeals included several days of nonstop rain, my rental car getting stuck in the mud and my hotel catching on fire. (It wasn’t my fault.) I will never forget the night that happened. It was about two in the morning when I got a phone call from the front desk. In a very sweet and polite voice, the young lady informed me that the hotel was on fire and that (now get this) I MIGHT want to leave the hotel. Having just been awakened out of a deep sleep and getting a phone call like this, I was a little confused. Was leaving optional? Should I wait until I see flames? If I choose to go down, will they reinstate happy hour in the hotel bar? So many questions, so little time. I decided to err on the side of caution and leave my room. I grabbed my passport, wallet and cell phone, threw on some shorts and walked down the stairs. Lucky the hotel didn’t have many floors. I and the other hotel guests waited in the parking lot for about 45 minutes while the fire department did an inspection. Turned out that faulty wiring shorted out a neon sign at the top of the hotel and produced some smoke, but not much more and it was safe to go back. The hotel staff, not knowing whether there was an actual fire when they smelled the smoke, decided to evacuate the guests. I think it was the young lady’s unaccustomed use of English as well as the island culture that made her suggest to me that I MIGHT want to leave the hotel rather than burn to a crisp. People are not pushy in that part of the world. All is well that ends well.


Back in the 90s, I worked in Japan as an English teacher. After my first year of teaching, I decided to take a three-month hiatus and bought an around-the-world airline ticket as I knew I would be going back to Japan to continue teaching. At $1300 U.S. it was a bargain. This ticket had stops in Hong Kong, Cambodia, India, England, three stops in the States and then back to Tokyo. While in England, I took a ferry across the Irish Sea to Ireland to visit a friend. After my first day there, I started to become very sick. By nightfall, I was so weak that my friend literally had to carry me into the hospital after he drove me there. While there, they did a spinal tap and then tested me for nearly every major disease that a person could have from typhoid to cholera to meningitis to dysentery. I spent five days in that hospital recuperating while the tests progressed. They dripped enough penicillin into me to fill a swimming pool. I was quarantined from the rest of the hospital population because they didn’t know what they were dealing with. My last day there, when I was strong enough to leave, the doctor told me that they had never found out what I had, but that I was free to go.


So whether you’re trapped by a typhoon in Okinawa, nearly get arrested in a third world country (I swear it was a total misunderstanding) or get stuck in a temple overnight in the middle of the jungle, my attitude is that everything that happens in life happens for a reason. I could look upon these happenings as ordeals. They were! But all I remember is the adventure!

Turn your ordeals into adventures with these helpful hints about behavior management.