I’ve been on the road a lot these past few months, which means I’ve had lots of opportunities to meet, engage, and intentionally network with many new and interesting people. Some of these have been fellow travelers with whom I’ve shared a few cordial words, nothing more, as our paths briefly intersected. Others were serendipitous meetings that led to meaningful conversations, which in turn are adding measurable value to my world or could become life-long associations. Somewhere in the middle are the interactions that seemed brief and superficial at the time, but ended up containing some meaningful Life Lessons.
One such Life Lesson came via a woman I met on the airport shuttle during a return trip from San Diego to Austin. The woman (let’s call her Martha) was from a small town in the Midwest. Martha was fairly new to solo business travel, let alone air travel, and expressed her extreme anxiety about navigating her way through airports. She admitted that most of the time she felt lost and had no idea where to go or what to do. I assured her that everyone, even the seasoned travelers, feel that way at one time or another as they circumvent the world. I suggested that the best thing to do was to ask for help and pay attention to the signs that lead the way. This seemed to make her feel better.
I then noticed Martha was carrying a bag monogrammed with the words “Dance Mom.” I’ve never been a dance mom, but I’ve been a soccer mom. This means I spent years attempting to find (and find my way around in) all kinds of new areas, cities and states. In addition, I had to locate and get my son (prepared and on time) to dozens of obscure and poorly marked soccer fields. I reminded Martha of her Dance Mom status and of all the times she’s gotten her daughter to the various places she had to be, prepared and on time. No doubt this required some bravery and resourcefulness. I saw a different look on Martha’s face after that: one of confidence, relief, and self trust.
A big lesson here for me (that maybe you picked up on and can identify with): How often have we been willing to step into the role of fearless leader, navigator, and problem-solver when we are the parents (or caregivers)? We were willing to do just about anything and go almost anywhere for the sake of someone else’s happiness and success. But then, when it’s time do something new, exciting or adventurous for ourselves, we forget we have these abilities and undaunted fearlessness?
Next time you face travel to an unknown destination or are staring down a new, anxiety-producing adventure (such as walking into a roomful of strangers), instead of allowing the details of “how” to turn you to mush or a bundle of nerves, step back and ask yourself how you’d handle it if you were doing it for the sake of your child or a loved one. What would you be willing to do? What courage, experiences, and resources would you tap into? Identify these. Then step out and do it for yourself. Because you know you can.