Yesterday was the first class in The Art of Self-Coaching, a new course I'm teaching at Stanford this year. It's a topic I've been working on for years--I pulled together a loosely organized set of Self-Coaching Guides in 2009 and developed a more comprehensive framework a few years later (which HBR found interesting), and this year I integrated concepts from other disciplines in preparation for my Stanford course.
So as you can imagine, I was pretty eager to get started yesterday. I wanted to get to campus early to ensure that I'd have plenty of time to set up and be ready to go for my 10am class. Given the Bay Area's traffic patterns, I'd have to leave San Francisco by 7am to beat rush hour, which meant that I'd arrive at Stanford around 8am, and it wasn't going to take me 2 hours to get ready.
I decided I'd use the extra time to get in an early morning workout on campus, and then I'd shower at the gym and head over to my classroom. So yesterday morning I threw my clothes in a gym bag, pulled on some running shorts, and jumped in the car.
I left even earlier than I'd planned, made good time and arrived on campus around 7:45am. Perfect! I'd have a leisurely workout and still have plenty of time to get ready for class. I parked my car and reached for my gym bag...
It wasn't there.
I'd left it in San Francisco, having distracted myself as I walked out the door.
So there I was, in running shorts, two hours before my class started. OK, no problem--I'll just find a store and buy a pair of pants. Plenty of time...
Then I realized that my wallet was with my pants. In my gym bag. In San Francisco.
OK, new plan. I'll just contact someone I know near Stanford and borrow some money, and then I'll find a store and buy a pair of pants. I reached for my phone...
Then I realized that my phone was with my wallet, which was with my pants. In my gym bag. In San Francisco.
OK, another new plan. I'll drive back to San Francisco, grab my clothes, shower, drive back to Stanford again, and start all over. This time without the workout.
It was nearly 8am. I did the traffic math and realized it would never work. At best I'd arrive on campus just as my class was supposed to start, and more than likely I'd get caught in traffic and would be late. Not a great way for an instructor to start a new course.
OK, yet another new plan. If the Stanford bookstore is open, and if they sell pants, and if I can reach Amy, maybe the bookstore will let Amy pay for the pants by giving a credit card number over the phone.
Long story short, it all works out. The bookstore's open, and an amazingly helpful clerk takes pity on me and helps me find a pair of sweatpants that fit, and they call Amy, and the pants are purchased.
I don't have time for a workout, nor do I have any extra clothes, but I can clean up at the gym and look more-or-less like I'm capable of teaching a class. So I do, and I get to class early, and everything goes well. Big sigh of relief.
The punchline: I see a colleague later that morning, and she looks at my sweatpants and says, "Well, I should have had you dress me for my first day of class." Ba-dum-bum.
Photo by Raúl González. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.