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“Your flight is cancelled, please do not come to the airport”  


That’s the text message we got from the airline as we were driving to the airport for our short break to Venice.    We knew there was a one hour delay when we left home and there had been no indication of it being cancelled.

We were both stunned initially so, we pulled into the next motorway services so we could quickly decide what to do.    We set about, checking alternative flights for that day and, established that French Air Traffic control had gone on strike affecting all flights out of the UK.  It became obvious the next available flights would be the following day (Monday).   I had to be back to run a programme on the Wednesday so we knew we would have little time to enjoy Venice in the short space of time we had.


So, our Venetian trip that Graham had given me as a birthday gift was gone for now.


As we walked into the Starbucks at the services, we felt an element of disappointment and I have to be honest, I had taken a moment in the car park to acknowledge our loss and shed a tear for a couple of minutes!


As we bought a coffee my instinct was to go into solution mode and use one of my well oiled phrases… ”If we can’t change it, how can we make the best of it?”

The sun was shining, our bags were packed, our ‘out of office’ was on and even our cat was being looked after so, we could do something else with the time we had.   We checked out the nearest coastline and looked for a few options of places to stay.   Due to the joys of modern technology, in the space of 45 minutes we had gone from our trip to Venice being cancelled to setting off to the New Forest.

We drove straight to the coast, we sat outside at a beautiful marina bar, we could see the masts of the boats bobbing up and down in the water that was sparkling in the sunlight.  As we sat there with our glass of wine, smelling the sea air, we could have been anywhere and we felt truly blessed.



You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
C S Lewis

Out of a situation we couldn’t control, we made the best of it using some very simple strategies.   We know from our work that it’s not the situations we find ourselves in that makes us feel a certain way, it’s what we think and say about those situations that influences our emotions and actions.

When we received the text message we took time out to decide what to do.  When we established we couldn’t get a flight that would give us long enough in Venice, we could have remained disappointed and we could have said…


“Well that’s it then”
“They’ve ruined our holiday”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“There’s nothing else for it, let’s turn the car around and go home”


This is what we call Disempowering language.  Using this language puts us into a disempowering state like upset, anger, defeat, stress and in these states, we are in a ‘problem focused’ mindset.

So, instead, by us using Empowering language it helped us to feel, hopeful, excited, optimistic and determined and helped us to come up with ideas and options that we would enjoy.

Our language moved us forward into ‘solution focused mindset.

So, instead we used questions like…


“ The holiday to Venice might be gone, we can still do something else with our time”
“Where else can we go?”
“If we stay in the UK we will have more time for our holiday so, where’s the nearest coastline?”
“Where would be lovely to drive to?”


Sometimes, when we’re faced with sudden changes we’re not prepared for, our reactions can get in the way of helping us to make a better choice.  It’s very easy to be upset when we don’t like the changes we experience.  The language we use in those moments though will either hold us back or move us forward and our choices we make in those moments will define our outcome.

Q 1: How comfortable are you with last minute changes?

Q 2: What language do you use in those moments and notice if your words are moving you backwards or forwards?

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