Tag: connecting

10/28/12 “Benefits of Travel”

Good day, team.

After traveling in Europe for three weeks, I have to admit there’s no place like home. Living out of a suitcase and managing travel logistics to seven major cities in 21 days is challenging. As I sit here by the fire this morning with my cup of tea, I am happy to say it was a full trip, but I’m also happy to be home safe and sound.

Whenever I’ve gone on a journey, I always ask myself three questions: What did I learn about the world? What was the greatest gift I received? What did I learn about myself?

This week’s challenge is my attempt to answer these questions. I could apply these questions to my life at anytime. But traveling to foreign places always offers something new to learn, and it’s a great way to broaden your perspective on the world.

So what did I learn about the world? I last traveled to Italy 22 years ago. Back then, the major cities in Italy were most crowded during the spring and summer months. October was a bit more subdued, and the tourists were much smaller in numbers. Not true today! What stood out to me was how many more people there are in the world now. As human beings, no matter what else goes on, we just continue to produce more human beings. I was shocked by the huge numbers of people I encountered — and how challenging it was to navigate in such crowds. I’m pretty polite when it comes to standing in lines and making space for others on the metro. But I had to fight my way into many spaces with people who thought nothing of delivering an elbow jab to my upper arm or abdomen to get where they wanted to go. I realize that in parts of the world, people experience this hustle and bustle on a daily basis, and I shouldn’t take it personally — but geez, a little human kindness would be nice. I have a client who, after attending a weeklong retreat where she tried to meet new people and make some friends, observed, “Well, I realized that I have a great love for humanity, but I don’t like anyone in particular.” Frankly, I began to feel just the opposite. I like a lot of folks in particular, but during my trip, I felt a growing dislike for humanity in general!

What was the greatest gift I received? A wonderful dining experience in Florence with our host Carla. We stayed at this woman’s home, which she’s turned into a bed and breakfast. Part of what she offers her visitors is a six-course, authentic Tuscan dinner. This meal was one of the finest dining experiences I’ve ever had. The food was beyond great, prepared to perfection. The wines matched with it were superb. And the company at the table was just the right blend of people — a mixture of Americans and Italians who shared similar values and who wanted to connect. We shared our travel experiences and what we loved most about Florence and Italy. Another great gift during the trip was being able to get our wash done in Rome. After 2½ weeks of doing laundry by hand, this was a total luxury!

What did I learn about myself? I’ve gotten older. I’m more opinionated. I am less patient about my creature comforts. I often feel more at home in parts of Europe than I do in parts of the U.S. I am one small speck in an extremely large universe. Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” I had many opportunities for my opinions to be challenged and my narrow thinking to expand.

Your challenge this week is to ponder these questions. You don’t have to go on a journey to ask yourself what you’ve learned about the world lately. Or what the greatest gift you received this week was. Have you learned anything new about yourself lately? Traveling forces us to be more nimble and less set in our ways — to adapt. But each of us can do this each week by examining our thinking and attitudes. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself these questions to observe what in your life is teaching you something new or offering you a gift that might give you joy.

St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

After three weeks of traveling, I’ve read a few more chapters and hope to take what I’ve learned back into my daily life and routine.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2012 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

12/18/11 “Bailey”

Good day, team,

Back in November of 2006, I wrote a challenge about an amazing young girl named Bailey whom I met on an airplane flight to Portland. I’ve been asked by a few clients to re-publish this challenge as it seems so appropriate for the holidays. Here it is:

I had an experience recently that seemed an appropriate topic for this week since we are officially now in the holiday season.

While flying back to Portland, I sat next to a 10-year-old girl named Bailey. When I first saw her, she seemed just like any other little girl, but as I sat down next to her, the flight attendant informed me that Bailey was a “challenged child” (an odd term) in that she could not speak. However, the flight attendant went on to say that Bailey would understand everything I said to her and could communicate with movement and expressions.

This news made me immediately uncomfortable. As I buckled my seatbelt and settled into my seat, I realized how awkward and confused I felt. Should I speak to her or not? What kind of response would I get from someone who couldn’t speak? Did she even want me to interact with her? It was as if this little girl were made of fine porcelain and if I didn’t treat her very carefully, she might break.

Fortunately, Bailey immediately put me at ease with her beautiful smile and sparkling blue eyes. When I said hello to her, she smiled and waved hello. The plane took off, and I began to read a magazine. The many Christmas advertisements featured pictures of snowflakes, stars, icicles, presents, etc.

Each time that I turned a page and a picture of a star appeared, Bailey pointed to the star and looked at me and smiled. I would then say, “Yes, that’s a star.” Before long, I noticed that I was actually looking for more pictures of stars so we could communicate with each other.

Coincidentally, there was a boy sitting behind us about the same age as Bailey. I realized before long that he talked pretty much continuously, first about the X-Box he wanted for Christmas, then about his friend’s new cell phone, then about school, then about his Dad, and so on and so on.

After awhile, I realized I had toned him out. I may have been open to hearing what he had to say in the beginning, but after so many words, I was no longer interested. And yet, every movement and expression of the little girl sitting next to me, who couldn’t speak a word, kept me keenly interested in what she was communicating.

This experience made me think about our basic need to connect with each other as human beings, and the importance of allowing our emotional beings to reach out to each other in any way possible. When we take up all the space by talking about ourselves and don’t allow the other person room to respond, the connection is lost, and the speaker becomes a nuisance rather than someone we want to know.

Bailey taught me something fundamental about our true nature as human beings. Wordlessly, her communication came through loud and clear. Her loving nature spoke volumes, and our communication had a quality that I don’t often experience when I talk with another person.

At one point, when a picture in the magazine appeared that showed animals around a beautifully decorated holiday tree, Bailey took my hand briefly and pointed my finger to the star at the top of the tree. Her open heartedness moved me with such warmth and joy that it brought tears to my eyes.

This week, try connecting with others in ways that you don’t normally use. Experiment with being more present to someone who is speaking to you so that you can not only hear her or his words, but can also notice expressions and gestures. Perhaps you’ll try greeting someone with a smile and some eye contact instead of a hello. If you find that you tend to talk a lot about yourself, try to ask other people questions about themselves instead. Practice listening more, especially to the words that are not being spoken, so that you can have a different experience in your communications.

And finally, be grateful that you have the amazing ability to connect and communicate with others in so many ways. By meeting Bailey, I understood that some of us are not so fortunate and that many of the things we take for granted, like saying our name, are not possible for others.

During this holiday season, be thankful for your ability to let others know what you think, how you feel, and who you are. And don’t be afraid to really connect by allowing the beauty of your heart to speak out, whether it’s in words or silence.

Have a great week,


Note: The coach will be on vacation for the holidays from 12/24 unti 1/2/12. The next challenge will be published on 1/8/12. Here’s wishing you all a joyous holiday!

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.