I've had two experiences in the past few days that tied into some key life lessons that are useful in both our personal and professional lives (which as many people will tell you these days is one and the same).
The first one was part of a birthday celebration for my mother's 70th birthday. My sister and I took her for a special NYC trip to a day and night of festivities. On our way to our hotel, we drove by Radio City Music Hall and I saw on the marquee that the next night Amos Lee and David Gray would be performing. I absolutely love them both and suggested we go as the finale to our Mother/Daughter NYC birthday celebration. Well, it didn't sound appealing (what do they know!) to my mom or sister but I couldn't stop thinking about what a great show that would be. So when we got to our hotel, I asked the concierge if he could help me buy tickets.
And wow - did he come through! He was able to get me tickets right away and my daughter Lexi (she was game and it extended the Mother/Daughter experience in the opposite direction) and I headed to the show the next night. I was a little unsure of where our seats were as they didn't quite correspond to the seating chart but figured it didn't really matter. We would have fun wherever we sat. When we got there, we presented our tickets and we were escorted all the way to the very front - row 3 of the pit. We turned around to look behind us at the masses of people filling up Radio City Music Hall and marveled at our seats. But it was even better. Because being so close to the stage - we were in a small lit up area and through both acts it was if the singers were singing to us in some small venue. And for some parts, I'm pretty sure they were. It was an absolutely amazing and truly unforgettable experience.
In the car ride back to my parent's house after the show, that got me thinking about opportunities and keeping your eyes open. We are often so focused on the next thing, getting to where we are going, using our time getting from one place to another (hopefully when we are not driving) to answer our emails, check in on our favorite sites - that we are often not aware of what we are doing - and miss out on some great experiences.
So the lessons here are: be present and act on opportunities that present themselves. There is so much talk today about being present in the moment. Books are written, lectures given - all on how to be present in the moment. And a big part of that is how to disconnect. But for many people, especially in business, they do not feel they have that luxury. They are always on, always expected to be in contact with whoever needs them. But often, you are just so used to being connected it is more habit. Which brings me to my next point.
The other morning, before heading to NYC for all the festivities, I took a Pilates group reformer class, which I do faithfully several times a week. One woman kept her phone next to her reformer. Which every so often, someone might need to do, if they are waiting for a call or worried about their kid, or something. But this woman not only kept her phone next to her, it rang during class. She looked at who was calling, declined the call and put her phone down. About three quarters of the way through the class, it rang again. And again she looked at it and decided not to answer. Never apologized, never put it on vibrate or put it away. It was pretty appalling how rude it was to the others in the class and although I think we were all irritated, only one woman spoke out. "I am just as busy as anyone in this room", she said. "And yet I consciously try to find an hour a few days a week to disconnect and I do not want to hear someone else's phone".
She was right. Of course. And I hope that other woman realized how rude she was being although she probably didn't.
But the point is: even if you have to fight for your time to disconnect. Do it. Focus, be present and live in the moment. And be open to what the universe suggests to you. It might just mean that David Gray sings part of "Sail Away" directly to you!
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