Last week I wrote a post, which you can find here, about three friends of mine who are each in a battle against cancer. Being in a battle is often a zero sum game. When someone is in a battle, they are usually looking to be the victor. The same can be said about life. The post last week spoke to how life can throw each of us a curve ball, no matter who we are, what we have and where we think we are going. So, I started to wonder – isn’t there an inherent urgency that exists in life to win and what does that mean?
I think the “win” is in helping yourself and others. Yes, if you go to the bookstore, or you search online, you will find hundreds and maybe thousands of authors and books helping you define what success and winning means. And, the ideas and suggestions will be just as varied as the books themselves and they can span from having a vast amount of money, toys and luxury living to the other end of the spectrum for those who live a less materialistic life but may measure it in terms of relationships or some other variable metric. I think I am somewhere in the middle.
Let’s start with helping others. A number of years ago, and I referenced this in my book “Almost Isn’t Good Enough”, there was a time I was on the road way more than I was home and I got used to being and waiting in airports. Sometimes, there is not much you can do but wait around and airplane travel is definitely a good teacher for that because there are missed planes, delays, mechanical issues, etc.
One time, I was seated very close to the airline representative at the counter while I waited for my flight. At one point, a man appeared at the counter who was flustered and upset at the flight delay. I paid attention, because I knew it was coming. He asked the airline rep a few questions and then the volcano exploded.
He turned beet red and the verbal assault of lava that spewed everywhere began. “Do you know who I am?” he demanded. Don’t you just love that one? I do.
Quickly I looked at the airline representative who was remaining as professional as possible under the hail of bullets that were flying all around her. Still, as much as this was her job, I suppose, I could not help but get involved to provide her some cover.
So, I stood up – just so you know, I am 6 feet 4 inches. I am a big guy. And in the midst of his rapid-fire assault, I kindly asked her where the microphone was located. She was so overwhelmed that she just pointed to it without thought. I picked it up and asked, “Excuse me. Does anyone know who this man is? He isn’t sure, and we are helping him figure it out”.
I will admit, that bit did get me some chuckles from others in the airport lounge, but the Most Important Person in the Airport, or as I affectionately call him, Mr. Important, was not amused. Without missing a beat, I soon found myself on the receiving end of his verbal fury. That was ok. I helped diffuse the situation and eventually Mr. Important slinked away to wait – just like the rest of us. As for the airline representative, it took her a moment, but she was incredibly thankful and gracious. So, you never know when you can be of help or assistance to someone.
But, before you can do that…you need to help yourself. Wishing things were better will never make them so. I am sure that airline representative wished at that moment Mr. Important was screaming and verbally abusing her that he would go away. But someone was there to take action and help, and if it was not going to be me, I have to hope there would have been someone else. What matters is what we do. So, isn’t it always imperative to be living like you mean it, which means – doing?
I think so. Keeping up with the air travel theme in my post today, when you fly you know that the airline personnel always train you in case the airplane depressurizes and the oxygen masks drop, that you need to put the mask on yourself first and only after doing that, can you help anyone – including children – around you. Depending on the situation, you may have as few as seconds to do this in order to remain alert and conscious.
If you agree with me that there is a certain urgency to living, then isn’t it imperative that we stop the wishing of things and start the doing to help ourselves and others? Isn’t it important that we think and plan, yes, but act? Get involved? Do? Perform? Achieve? Assist?
So, you may be saying, “OK, Wayne, good, I get it. We all need to do something. But life is tough. Life is busy. Things get in the way. Have you seen how much I have tried and I just can’t seem to get from Point A to Point B?”
My answer to you is, you must figure out a way. But, I am also going to go further. I am not just going to give you the pep talk. What I will try to do in my next post is to start to provide you some road map, based on what has worked for me, as to how you might approach it and make a difference for yourself and others.
In the meantime, please feel free to send me your thoughts here or @WayneElsey. We’re all in this together.