Stop Waiting for First Class

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Everything is better in first class. Right? I mean, that’s why they call it first class. It puts you ahead of the rest. How many times have you been sitting back in steerage (the airlines call it “economy”), seen the people in the front of the aircraft being served foie gras and vintage champagne and thought to yourself, “Everything will be great once I get into first class”? For that matter, how many times have you thought:

  • “Everything will be great once I’m making $100,000 a year.”
  • “Everything will be great once I get that promotion.”
  • “Everything will be great once we have kids.”
  • “Everything will be great once the kids move out of the house.”
  • “Everything will be great once pigs learn how to fly.”

Yes. the grass is always greener on the other side. “But,” you say, “things really are better in first class.”

Think so? Read on, Sparky.

So the other day I’m flying out of town for the holidays. I’m at the gate getting ready to board the plane, and the gate people (I believe that’s the correct term) are calling for a passenger.

“Gonzales. Gonzales. Passenger Gonzales.” 30 second pause. “Gonzales. Paging passenger M. Gonzales.” Another pause, then the same thing. Finally, they give up on Gonzales, and I hear, “Stainton. Passenger Stainton.”

I’m Stainton! I head to the gate.

“Mr. Stainton, it’s a full flight and we need your economy (steerage) seat. So if it’s all right with you, we’re moving you up to first class.”

If it’s all right with me?! Of course it’s all right, because, as we’ve already established, everything is great once you get into first class.

So now, in my mind, I’m dancing my happy dance. I’m going to fly first class! Life is good!

Cut to:

The first class section. I’m in 1D. Right hand side, window seat. Life is still good. Flight attendant brings me orange juice. Goodness of life continues. Just before the doors close, a large gentleman comes in and settles into 1C, the seat next to me. Life is marginally less good. And then it happens.

I don’t know what this man has eaten today, but it is having a distressingly pungent effect on his gastrointestinal system. The effect lasts the entire flight. Life is bad, very bad.

Stop envying the people in first class. Stop envying the people making more money than you. Stop waiting for something else to happen in order for everything to be great.

Want to know when everything will be great? When you choose it to be great. Life can be just as great in economy class as it is in first. Life can be great on $50,000 a year, and life can suck on $500,000 a year.

John Lennon said that his happiest time with the Beatles was when they were a struggling band playing six hours a night in the clubs in Hamburg for little money.

Yes, strive for first class, if that’s what you truly want. Strive for a bigger income, if that’s important to you. Just don’t think that everything will be perfect when you achieve them. Life can be good right now, right where you are. So stop and smell the roses today.

Because things don’t always smell so rosy in first class.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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