Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Acting on Intuition - the Southwest Story......

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Having a passion and entertaining the possibilities now bring you into the state of mind of being ready to act on your intuition. These are ideas and thoughts that come to you seemingly out of nowhere.

Another word for intuition is that “gut” feeling you get from time to time. It’s that little voice in your head urging you to act on an idea, thought or something you saw or heard. Often times it calls for you to act in the face of the unknown. In other words, your intuition is telling you to do something when there’s no evidence that it’ll work out in the end.

Using the experience of my favorite airline, countless of employees have listened to their intuition and made judgment calls that caused them to go above the call of duty to help their fellow workers and customers. I pulled one example out of NUTS! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg for this post.

My favorite story of how intuition was used was the time a flight attendant from Phoenix named Debra Undhjem stepped in to help an elderly (87 years old) passenger.

Although the elderly woman missed her plane in Oakland, she did make it to Phoenix only to miss her connecting flight to Tulsa. Since there were no more flights to Tulsa after the missed flight, the customer had no choice but to stay overnight and catch the next available flight the following morning.

In light of her situation, customer service supervisors decided to put her up in a local hotel at the airline’s expense. That's when Debra got personally involved.

She decided to go beyond the call of duty and invite the elderly customer to her home for the night instead of putting her in a hotel room all by herself. Debra made ecessary phone calls to relatives in Tulsa informing them the elderly lady would be arriving on the first flight the next day. The following morning Debra brought this customer back to the airport and waited with her until she was aboard the first flight to Tulsa.

Isn't that great customer service or what? Now, I can't imagine they do this very often (it would be impossible to with the volume of passengers they fly everyday) but there was a special reason for it.

When asked why she followed her intuition, she said it was because the elderly woman was diabetic and she did not feel it was right to put her up in a hotel by herself. She felt called to go beyond what was expected of her in the name of doing what felt right. It's amazing how the Southwest culture encourages their employees to think for themselves. You'd be hard pressed to find a corporation like Southwest these days!

In any case, who knows what might have happened had the woman been left alone that evening? Even though it didn't happen, you never know if she would have suffered a massive stroke with no one around to help her.

Food for thought: Can you name one or two incidents where you had an overwhelming feeling about something that you couldn't put your finger on but you went ahead and acted on it? Did your "hunch" prove to be correct?
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