We had a couple days in Munich last week before flying down to Palermo for Spring Break in Sicily. While there, we were blessed with yet another reminder of the importance of the well-crafted backup plan.
There were many things on our "must see" list for Munich- experience a biergarten, taste an authentic Bavarian pretzel, find a park with a playground (that would be from the kids' list), and most importantly, see the Munich Glockenspiel.
The Munich Glockenspiel is located in the Marienplatz, a plaza near the center of Munich. I actually remember seeing it on a college choir trip to Europe. At mid-day and again at 5:00pm, the glockenspiel comes alive and goes through a 15-minute song and dance with music and everything.
Expectations were high in the Keller family as high noon arrived and we waited patiently in the Marienplatz with about two hundred other people. The bell from a nearby cathedral went off and we saw everyone raise their cellphones to capture the moment forever.
And... nothing happened.
At around 12:02, people started dispersing, shaking their heads in disappointment. By 12:05, the Keller family children were not in a good place.
"It's ok," Mommy and Daddy guaranteed, "we'll come back at 5:00 and see it then. No problem."
We aimed our family to the English Garden, sort of the Central Park of Munich. A playground appeared on the horizon like an oasis after an aimless trek through the desert.
Spirits were lifted. We even met a family from northern Italy who enjoyed talking about our upcoming visit to Sicily. Crisis averted.
Fast forward to 4:58pm.
We again waited patiently, this time with a much larger crowd. Visitors had filled all the nearby outdoor cafes. Anticipation was running very high.
Reclining patiently in his stroller, our two-year old son pointed up to the glockenspiel and loudly proclaimed, "Cuckoo!"
5:00 arrived. The church bells triumphantly tolled at the coming of a new hour.
Cell phones were raised and a hush fell over the crowd.
And... nothing happened.
5:01... 5:02... 5:03... people began leaving the plaza. Mommy and Daddy looked at each other, coming to the unspoken conclusion that perhaps the glockenspiel schedule is adjusted on Good Friday.
"Cuckoo!" our son yelled, pointing up to the dead quiet and unmoving glockenspiel.
We needed a backup plan.
Mommy and Daddy sprang into action. Mommy produced toy cars out of a hidden compartment to pacify our son. Daddy whipped out his phone to locate an emergency schnitzel opportunity nearby, while simultaneously distracting our daughter by pointing out cool buildings.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at a restaurant that produced schnitzel larger than our outstretched hands. One of our most enjoyable meals. We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
My wife taught me years ago that one of your key duties as a parent is to have a backup plan. You can always fend off rampant disappointment by having a ready fallback option that distracts and excites.
The English Garden and schnitzel restaurant did not just materialize out of nowhere. We had looked ahead of time for some quick options around the city, just in case we'd need them. We ended up needing them both on the same day!
As a student pilot, I have often been reminded of the value of backup plans.
One of the most important aspects of flying a plane is emergency preparedness. When I was planning my first long solo flight, I scanned the VFR sectional for airports along the way, just to be prepared for any surprise.
As I was flying, I routinely scanned the landscape for a suitable place to land in case of an engine cut out. During training flights, my instructor would occasionally yank out the throttle and say, "OK your engine just cut out. What do you do?"
Investing is not about predicting the future. And charts do not tell you what is definitely going to happen, they tell you when you need to declare an emergency and go to your backup plan.
One of my favorite pilot sayings is, "It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground."
No one knows what will happen tomorrow. Not in the news. Not in the markets. Not in life.
With a good backup plan, you will be prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial advice. Please see the Disclaimer page for full details.