I was in New York on business working with clients last month. Flying cross country in the middle of December is always a bit of a gamble with weather, holidays, winter bugs, and delays, but I’ve found it’s also one of the most meaningful and intimate times of the year for non-pixelated connection and conversations, so I went.
The trip was great. The clients and people I hung out with great. The travel out, easy. I wrapped the end of year and strategy sessions for 2016, delighted in the holiday cheer, and was on my way home.
And then… weather.
Due to weather, I, and many others, had the pleasure of having lots of extra time on the plane as we watched our connecting flights leave without us. If you ever want to see “contagious culture” in action, hang out at a crowded airport in the middle of December in the middle of the country when weather kicks in. You’ll meet all sorts of people.
You’ll find the “positively contagious”, who stay light, get that this is part of travel, continue to chill out, make friends (if that’s their fancy), make jokes, and go with the flow. They’re not delighted about it, they want to go home… but they help things go better instead of worse with their intention, their energy, and their presence.
And then there are the “negatively contagious”, who get angry, hiss, throw their luggage, yell at attendants, make sure everyone around them knows their displeasure with the airline (really not the airline’s fault), host conversations all about the misery of travel, make very loud colorful phone calls, make things worse, let it drain their life force, and basically stress everyone out around them (or at least those who’ll take it on).
Both of these groups are highly human, highly normal, and highly contagious. Both of these groups have super powers: being contagious, choosing, and showing up amongst some of the most powerful. Both of these groups can use these powers for good or evil :-). What’s interesting to watch is how fast these “super powers” spread to those around them – for better or worse. (This is not at all unlike everyday life and organizational culture.) The kinder and more present people were – the easier their night was. The more irritated and resistant they were -- the worse it got.
I ended up booking an early flight out and spending the night in the terminal (along with many others). I made some new friends, got 5K steps in, had a good meal, took some supplements, finished my holiday shopping online, and caught up on social. It wasn’t a picnic, I’d be fine to not do it again, but I got home without being wrecked and with a lot of gratitude just to get home (and shower).
The whole evening was an exercise of choosing; choosing to match “low or high vibe”, choosing how to show up, what outlook to take, how to feel, how to interact with and regard people... choosing breath, joy, and peace – or not.
I’m not picking on the people who chose grumpy… I get it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have flinches of snarky-ness pop up at different points in my airport adventure. An essential part of authentic leadership is being able to notice the snark, have your emotion and experience, and then choose. We can find peace, comfort, and power in knowing that even in those moments of snark, or feeling out of control, we are still at choice. When we choose well, energy shifts, presence shifts, and the experience can shift – for us and for those around us. Not only that, we attract more of what we put out there – so choosing well can make life a lot easier.
I got home. Showered. Pressed some coffee. Settled into my office. And guess what? The meeting I took a 5:40 a.m. flight out for? Twas… cancelled.
What do you choose?
As you come into this next year, you are going to have choices upon you over and over and over again. In business, in life, with your team, your spouse, your kids, your food, your self-care, your mindset… A lot of these choices are going to come from things that are out of your control, or downright suck. So what will you choose? How will you – authentically – find the “high vibe” way to roll?
Here are some places to look:
- Notice your emotion, feel into it, and allow it. Breathe.
- Do whatever you need to do in that moment to take care of yourself. Again, breathe.
- Find the gift, the opportunity, and/or the learning possible from this thing. Breathe.
- Choose your state. Decide how you want to be with this thing; frame it in a way that is authentic and serves you; find gratitude in whatever way shape or form possible. Breathe.
- Get into action. And, yes, of course, breathe.
Being contagious is a super power. Being at choice is a super power. Showing up is a super power. Used intentionally, they’re game changers creating more success, power, and joy for ourselves and most often those around us.
Go rock it. Happy New Year!
This article first appeared on Inc.com on December 21, 2015.
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