As I am writing this post I am supposed to be in Sofia, Bulgaria. As you might suspect I am not; I am in Richmond, Virginia. So what happened?!
I’m glad you asked, because I need to share this information so that you can learn from my experience.
One of my more popular posts is about asking the right questions. Marketers, as well as Asking the Right Questions What I Learned the Hard Waymost other disciplines, are really only as effective as the questions they ask, and these days there is no shortage of data; however, it would seem that there is a dearth of insight…. But I digress.
What does this have to do with Bulgaria? I have been planning a trip to Sofia with some good friends to speak to groups on leadership, and for this trip I had the opportunity to prepare a marketing seminar.
Early on, I noticed my passport expiration date was mid-April, so I asked those making the arrangements if that would present a problem, since my return was the end of March. They checked and told me it would not present a problem because there were no restrictions.
The morning of my scheduled departure, I was checking in online to obtain my boarding pass. During this process, a pop-up window informed me that my documents were insufficient. Immediately, I called the airline only to discover that Bulgaria does not allow entry into their country if your passport expires within 90 days of your departure date.
Calls to the Bulgarian embassy and rush passport services were not helpful, so I had to cancel my trip.
Here is what I learned.
Before you start asking questions, understand the risks and threats to the best of your ability. If you have an idea what the downside of your choices might be, this can help inform your questions and decisions.
Know who can influence and affect your decision. It turns out the travel folks checked the US passport site and found no restrictions. In this case, it was the Bulgarian government that issued the restrictions.
Take responsibility for your decisions. I asked what I thought was the right question; however, in my gut, I just had a feeling that renewing my passport was a good idea. At that point, it would have been a rush but still quite doable. Very often we are tempted to push the responsibility for our decisions to an advisor. I know better. As a pilot, it was drilled into my brain, the control tower can give instructions and advise, but ultimately it’s up to the pilot to understand the conditions and respond appropriately. I own this.
No matter what happens, ask yourself and those who work with you the most important question “What did you learn?”.
Asking the right questions won’t keep us from making mistakes, that’s not the point. The point is, there are consequences to our decisions. There are people in Bulgaria who may be affected by my choices. Now I can choose to brood over the situation, or I can grow and share with you so that hopefully you’ll benefit from my experience and perhaps you will be able to share with others.
Asking the Right Questions What I Learned the Hard Way
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