Napoleon Hill, the author of the best-selling book “Think and Grow Rich,” writes in his book about the key principles of success. And one of these was an absolute game-changer for us last weekend: “Hold No Bitterness.” 

On Saturday morning at 5:00 am, the alarm clock rings. Just my time… Anke and I are heading to Munich after a seven-day communication trainer seminar at Lake Starnberg. The sunrise on the horizon in front of Munich Airport is breathtaking. We hand over our car to the smiling valet service attendant right at the entrance and check in. The departure is scheduled for 9:55 am. Great. It gets us to Barcelona at 12:55 pm to board the MSC Seaside. Even though we’ve received an SMS from MSC three days ago, stating that the ship departs at 5:00 pm instead of 7:00 pm due to technical reasons, we’re unfazed at that moment. We’re about to be there shortly before 1 pm.

“Due to a technical issue, the departure of your flight VY1813 is delayed. You will receive further information within the next hour.” Well, I could have lived without that statement. “The plane has just rolled up to the gate. It can’t be that broken,” I think. Well, if it takes off in 60 minutes, everything will be perfect. But what if it doesn’t? I check the alternatives. Just before 1 pm, there’s a Lufthansa flight to Barcelona, or a flight to Marseille later in the afternoon, where the ship would be tomorrow. But we need our luggage for that. I go to the counter with a smile. “Excuse me, we might need our luggage if this doesn’t work out. Otherwise, our ship will leave without us.” The lady looks sympathetic. “The luggage is already on the plane (this information will be important later). Alright, then no Plan B or C. I call the client who, along with their employees, is already on the ship. “Let’s wait and see.”

So, we wait. And wait. After two hours, we all form a caravan following the airline representative. New gate. Hope for takeoff? No. Our gate is just needed for another flight. After another 40 minutes, they start distributing vouchers for some food. Just before it’s my turn, the distribution ends because we start boarding. Great. I’d rather fly than have a free meal, which is unusual for a Swabian, but hey, we’re heading to the ship where there will be plenty to eat. When we’re finally seated on the plane, the captain stands in the aisle instead of making the announcement from the cockpit, which I think is excellent leadership. “We will be taking off in 10 minutes,” he says.

My tip to you: If you’re not certain it’s exactly 10 minutes, it’s better to say something like “shortly.” Because nothing happens after 10 minutes. Some passengers, eager to get to the Real Madrid game in Barcelona, are getting rather agitated. After about 25 minutes, the captain appears in the aisle again. “Ladies and gentlemen, due to the gate change (due to the repairs), we have just realized that our luggage is still at the airport. It’s on its way to the plane now, and we should be taking off in about 45 minutes.”

Breathe. Just breathe.

After about 30 minutes, an irate woman storms past us in the sixth row. “Now two people want to disembark. Such jerks. Where are they…?”. Due to the late hour, a father and son decide to leave the plane, which means their luggage must be unloaded again. It had just been loaded, and now it’s going back out. Just breathe, Norman. Everything is okay.

A whopping 4.5 hours after the originally scheduled departure time, we finally land in Barcelona. Our luggage is the first on the carousel. Praise the Lord. We jump into a taxi. It’s just past 5:00 pm, and the ship was supposed to depart. On our way to the ship, the client messages, “The gangway is still there, but there’s no one at the port terminal. So, according to the ship’s officials, it doesn’t make sense to come anymore.” “Seriously?” Anke nearly jumps out of the taxi. “Let’s go there anyway,” she says. “No, honey. It doesn’t make sense. Let’s go back to the airport. They should book us a hotel and a flight to Marseille,” I say. It’s nice that the taxi driver probably doesn’t understand our German argument afterwards.

Back at the airport, I rush to the airline counter. All I get is a blue slip with a reference number. No hotel. No flight. No food. “You can submit the receipts later,” they tell me. Great, thanks for nothing. “The ship is still there. If only we had gone there,” Anke notes with a slightly annoyed tone. I message the client about the situation. “This annoys me so much. We’re still here after an hour,” the client says. “Damn it. Let’s just go to that freaking port now.” So, back into another taxi. “Can you drive fast?” The driver seems somewhat surprised but accelerates, given his standards. On our way, the client messages, “We’re leaving now. Go to our airport hotel from yesterday. It was good.” “Alright, taxi driver, we’re turning back.” While we’re still driving, I check the hotel’s website. No available rooms. Great. While I’m thinking that, we arrive at the hotel. Well, we try anyway. If I tell Anke, she would jump out of the taxi right away.

We enter the hotel. “A double room, please.” “Do you have a reservation?” “Uh, no. We also no longer have a ship. It’s gone now. So, we just need a (darn) room.” Even though I don’t understand the Spanish conversation with his colleague, I don’t like her expression. “I’m sorry, we don’t have any rooms left.” “Really now?” “Only a suite is available.” “How much does it cost? Well, you know what… I don’t care how much it costs. We’ll take it. The airline will pay for it. Is there anything to eat here?” He nods. “Do you want a wake-up call for your airport shuttle at 5:00 am tomorrow?” “No, we’ll set our own alarm (this will also be important later).” He nods again and points to the restaurant, where we stand 10 minutes later. “I’m sorry, we will only open in 1.5 hours,” I hear from the friendly waiter. At that moment, my thoughts go in the direction of “I could vomit.” Never mind, we’ll eat something in the bar.

On our way to the suite, we notice that there’s a time change tonight. What does a clever man of the world do? Set the phone to manual, turn the time back by one hour, and adjust the alarm clock. Done. We’re awakened at 4:25 am. Good night. 

In the middle of the night, our room phone rings. I leap to the phone next to me, but Anke is already answering it. “Hello? What? Yes. Thank you.” “Who was that?” I ask. “The front desk. The man said we have an appointment in 10 minutes.” I look at my phone through my half-opened eye. “It’s 3:50 am. We have nothing in 10 minutes.” So, who has an idea of what’s going on here? Learning for life: The phone always adjusts itself, whether it’s the network, Wi-Fi, manual, or automatic. So, the idea was good, and we hadn’t counted on the clever Apple developers. Because now it was already 4:50 am. With a rocket boost in our veins, we jump out of bed, and 9 minutes later, we were in the lobby and 11 minutes later, we were in the shuttle.

Breathe, Norman. Just breathe. Check-in at the airport and the flight go unexpectedly well, and we are now relieved that this eventful journey was probably over.

Arriving in Marseille, we place one suitcase on the passenger seat of the taxi, the other next to my backpack and my orange leather jacket in the trunk.

Finally, at the port, I take care of the payment, while the friendly taxi driver unloads everything and hands it over to Anke. We enter the port building. The check-in isn´t even set up yet. “You can check in 1.5 hours from now.” Well then… we’re used to wait. Since it is early in the morning, I find it a bit chilly in my T-shirt. My gaze falls on all our belongings. “Where is my orange leather jacket?” “I don’t know. Where was it?” It was in the trunk, with my backpack and the suitcase. “It’s not here.” “Really? Everything was unloaded, except the jacket?” Breathe, Norman. Just breathe. Two security guards and 20 minutes later, Bruno, a kind staff member, manages to get hold of the right taxi driver on the phone, who, miraculously, still has the jacket in the taxis trunk. “He’s back at the airport. If he’s coming back just for the jacket, it will cost an additional 69 Euros. Or he can come a bit later if he has a city ride.” I choose option two. Bruno and I exchange phone numbers. Okay, so far, so good.

While we are waiting, I try to log into the MSC app, but I cannot with our booking number. Of course, we hadn’t arrived, and the system must have kicked us out. And right at that moment, Napoleon Hill’s words come to my mind: ” Hold No Bitterness.” So, I breathed again. And again. And again. And take a sip of water. It is still a beautiful day. We have reached our destination, and whatever the past few hours were trying to tell us, I didn’t know yet. And somewhere on the ship, they would find a place for us. The moment I let go of my bitterness, a completely new time begins. We are allowed to board ahead of everyone else. Our client and his lovely wife are already waiting for us in the Yacht Club area of the ship. Gradually, all the client’s employees come by to say hello. Our butler wants to show us everything in the suite but doesn´t get the chance because the taxi driver is back again. So, I walk quickly back into the port building, give him 20 Euros, and hand Bruno my English book “I AM GRÄTER” and 10 Euros to thank him for all the help. He gives the money back to me, shaking his head and expressing his gratitude for the nice book gift.

When one embarks on a journey, they have stories to tell. Maybe this whole ordeal was just a reminder for me to remember Napoleon Hill’s words, ” Hold No Bitterness.” Although my blue glasses were severely tested on those two days, and sometimes I also put on my red glasses, one thing is clear to me: I cannot control the circumstances, but I can control my perspective on them.

With that in mind, we are currently packing for the upcoming business trip to the Caribbean, and we will check in with you next week from Ocho Rios.