Life lessons in unexpected places
London had always been interesting to me from afar, but I can well and truly say, that since I hit my 40’s, I am very much a home bird. The visits I have had to the capital city have been amazing but the little lights of Manchester have always been a safer place for me to , and have always known as ‘home’. To my surprise, as a senior leader in education, an opportunity came up to attend an awards for which which we had been nominated, in a swanky hotel in central London. Not only did I have a chance, that was few and far between in the teaching sector, but I also got to attend with one of my closest colleagues. The company we were collaborating with paid for our seats, transport and put us up in their beautiful hotel so this one was a no brainer! Unbeknownst to me, I’d learn more on this trip than I expected.
As predictable as I am, the fear started to set in a couple of days before the event and I started questioning if I really wanted to be away for the evening, what I would wear and how the hell I was going to cover up the horrific sunburn I ended up with the day before (if you know me, this is very unusual as I really am the factor 50 queen!). I worried about getting there, finding our way around the big city and getting back to work for 9.30am (yes, I did say 9.30am) the following day to participate in a management development session.
So, out of my comfort zone, a little nervous and panicky, I put on my big girl pants and ventured for the bright lights of the country’s capital, unsure of how the experience would be.
This was my first lesson, out of the comfort zone is where I flourish and learn most. I didn’t get lost, I didn’t miss home and I really enjoyed being away from the ‘Manchester Me’. Now, this ‘Manchester Me’ I am talking about is the person with the responsibilities, the mum, the business woman or the senior leader in work. For the first time in a long time, I could be me without being defined by my responsibilities. I could be silly, and curious, giggly and unsure, cheeky and funny, and I could think about me and only me for a little while.
Lesson 1 Out of the comfort zone = You often learn and flourish
My second lesson during this trip was ‘don’t lose faith in the kindness of humans’. When sometimes, it feels we live in a self absorbed world, where people don’t take time to stop and smile or say a kind word, someone will just surprise you.
This happened twice on the trip. The first time was on the train, the ticket conductor looked at our tickets, the whole time smiling and being very polite, as he wished me a good day, I say ‘yes you too and thank you for being so positive’, at that point he stopped and told me, my work bestie, and two other strangers on the train that he always tried to live in the moment. That he tried to understand others and their behaviours from their perspective, that when they were rude, it was about them, not him. He lived in the moment and appreciated how lucky he was to be talking, walking and to be living life- how refreshing he was, forcing me to reflect on how lucky I also was.
Lesson 2.1 Living in the moment = no past regrets or future anxieties, just living and feeling every second.
The second time I saw the strength of human kindness was at 5.30am at the London Underground. Tower Hill, 5.30am, train hasn’t turned up, and we need to be on a train in 30 minutes. Panic, anxiety and stress all start to set in and I know that if we don’t do something quickly the whole positive experience of this trip will come snowballing into a pile of negatively. Out of nowhere comes a guy who also needs to get on a train too, sees our despair and offers us his taxi. We can share he says, ‘I’m getting one anyway’. We didn’t know this man, we had never asked him for help but he decided to show us some kindness. This man wouldn’t take any money and insisted he would sort the bill and told us to go and get our train, he asked for nothing.
Lesson 2.2 When you doubt humanity: the universe shows you its beauty
The beauty of this trip was it taught me to challenge my perceptions and emotions. Where ever there was a negative, a positive followed. There where there are emotions, there are lessons to be learned. That discomfort helps us grow, positivity is infectious, you are more than your responsibilities, humanity still exists and people will always, always surprise you.
I for one, know that the universe has, and always will, have a plan for us. If you can keep being brave and keep challenging yourself, you will always find a way to learn the lesson and thing will always end up as they should…
Love as always
Jennie Clare xxx