My version of a taxi ride

I’m just back from an inspiring trip to St. Louis for the International Coach Federation annual conference. For three days I was surrounded by people who, like me, love to support, encourage and inspire others to reach their potential. Can you imagine getting into an elevator with a bunch of people like that every morning and evening? They aren’t wild and crazy and over-powering you with their ‘stuff’ — they just radiate kindness and friendship. 1300 people were there — so that’s a lot of kindness in one spot.

We coaches are a bunch of people who want to give the gift of seeing others expand their own gifts. That’s what I do with my clients; I meet them and quickly see what they have to offer — something they usually don’t see, which is why they are seeing me. That’s my gift: seeing what others have to offer. I’ve always had that gift but I didn’t know how to offer it until I was in my 30’s when I started doing career counseling. That’s when I started to see how all of the chaos and confusion of my 20’s could serve me in the next phase of my life. I love what I get to see with my clients…see them come to life again.

So my taxi ride. I was inspired to write about this after my husband handed me an editorial from today’s Sunday NY Times; Thomas L. Friedman’s The Taxi Driver. He tells of the driver who picked him up at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport; he was continually talking on his Blue Tooth, driving, and watching a dvd on his dashboard while Friedman was writing on his laptop in the back seat with his iPod on. No chit chat going on. No discussion of politics or even the weather. Nothing. The message here being that all this technology is interfereing with communication while enhancing connectivity. We’re all aware of this phenomenon. Personally I get headaches from this sort of thing….but more on that in a minute.

My experience at the St. Louis airport was a whole different thing. After arriving in St.Louis late on Weds. night I realized that I hadn’t made arrangements for transportation to my hotel…too distracted with too many things going on here to think that all the way through, right?
So I approached a bell,man at the baggage corral. He was a kind older fellow. He explained all of the options available to me, pointing out that my best, and most expedient option, was to take a car service to the hotel. He then gave me a number to call and told me to tell them that he was my tipster. They were so nice but didn’t have a driver for me. My guardian bellman then went and talked to a driver waiting for his charge, but again, came up without a ride. I said I’d just find a cab outside, but he kindly told me to hold on while he remembered another number to call. This time a gentleman said he’d be there in five minutes and told me where to meet him. My bellman knew just where to go. OK, so now I’m thinking, “hmmm, what did I get myself into? Will this be some guy who just happens to be driving around? Will I actually make it to my hotel or some deserted garage?” My bellman with the kind eyes smiled when I gingerly said ‘This is a real car service, right?’ “I realized a long time ago that you need to treat people with respect and kindess. That’s the way to do business. So you don’t have to worry. I’ll take care of you.” “Okay,” I said. Then he went on, ” I’ll take care of you and your husband or anyone. You know why? Because I love you. I love everyone. ” I was so calmed by him and he made me smile. “That must be a nice way to go through life,” I said. “Um hum.” He nodded. I’m not making this up. This guy was the real thing. Outside the airport a lovely big limo was waiting for me with a charming well spoken driver who swiftly took me to the hotel. We talked about my work and his, he told me about his sister who has two Masters degrees and his large family that enjoyed the Cardinal’s win. We talked about the outrage he and his fellow St.Louians feel about the news that their city was named the most violent city in the USA. “We think it’s just because we won the Series. Crazy.”

These two caring and professional men ushered me to my destination — to a hotel filled with generous and purposeful people from 33 countries who gathered to talk together about how to continue to provide more and great support and coaching to every kind of person of our world. This is the kind of world I’m looking to be in…it’s the one I choose.

But here’s the thing: Technology is what connects so many of us. I found myself in many conversations with my fellow coaches about how we use our websites, podcasts, ezines, shopping carts, web radio stations, webinars, and teleclasses to communicate with prospective and dedicated clients. And we also talked about our loneliness because so many of us work with clients over the phone and via ‘crackberries’. Many of us are busy with clients, busy writing our newsletters and blogs and so don’t have much person-to-person face time with our colleagues.

After one converstation with a friend who has spent the past year getting her business up and running on the web I had a massive headache as I digested everything she’d explained about how she created this impressive enterprise. This is how it’s done now, I reckoned. But my headache, I realized, was talking to me. Maybe this isn’t how I’ll do it. Maybe I’ll figure out how to do this work my way. I’m not sure how that’s going to look, exactly, but I know it’s going to be my own way — My headache went away when I settled into knowing that things always work when I settle back and rely on my inner knowing. I have the right answers for me…just like I encourage my clients to know. They know what works for them. When I create the space for me to hear my answers, they show up. I get to help my clients hear their voice — the one that knows what works for them. I’m grateful that I can hear my voice. And the voices of my fascinating and creative clients with whom I have a very real connection. Nothing virtual about it.