On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife and soulmate, retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’.
While on the Freedom Trail, I journaled every day and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson. Over the coming weeks, I will share those lessons.
On entering the station, I noticed them at once. An older lady, carrying a large suitcase, stood at the top of the escalator with her friend. They looked reluctant to step onto the moving stairs. Should the bag go first or last? They looked flustered and bewildered.
Adding to the problem, the station was noisy and busy. Rush-hour passengers spilled into the building at an alarming rate and their pace was frenetic. As people continued to brush past the two ladies without stopping, my instincts took over.
Approaching one, I asked if I could help. “May I help? I can take your suitcase to the bottom of the escalator. I’ll wait for you there.” Both women looked surprised and grateful. “It will be fine,” I said. “I will wait for you there, and my wife will escort you to the bottom of the steps.”
[Tweet "Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are. - John McLaughlin"]
They looked around, then at each other. No-one else was rushing to help. Their plight remained unobserved by others. “Well thank you sir, if you don’t mind?” one queried. I reassured her, “Not a problem at all. I’d be delighted to help.”
Then, picking up her bag, I rode the escalator. The bag, though large, was light and gave me no problems. On reaching the bottom, I stood to the side and gestured to them to descend. Lesley escorted the ladies downwards, protecting them from the incessant stream of rushing people.
Once safely at the bottom, the relief on their faces was visible. Thanking us warmly, they resumed their journey, chattering loudly about those very polite English people they’d just met! I was just relieved to see them safely onward.
Leaders will spontaneously seize the moment, care for others and commit to random acts of kindness.