Tag: connection

Words of Wisdom

Good day, team.

This last challenge for 2013 is about finding grace and wisdom in the most unlikely places.

On a trip to California this week to visit a client, I found myself in a taxi at 4:45 in the morning en route to the airport. My taxi driver arrived right on time and greeted me with a broad smile as he took my bag and placed it in the trunk of the car.

Soon after leaving my home, we began to talk. Hearing his accent, I asked him where he was from. “Ethiopia,” he replied with a deep bass resonance in his voice. “Ahhh,” I replied. “I had a client once who is American but grew up there as the daughter of missionaries. She spoke very highly of your country and enjoyed her years there growing up.” And so our conversation continued about Ethiopia, his experience growing up there, the differences between his birthplace and America, etc.

We began to talk about the things that were most important to us as we were growing up. He spoke about always working at school and living in his small village with his family. He didn’t have much time for play as a kid and really didn’t have much time to enjoy the better parts of his culture. Ironically, now that he lives in the U.S., he makes an effort to meet with other Ethiopians to enjoy what bits of their native culture they can recreate here.

He talked about the differences between America and Ethiopia. As he put it, “Here, we all have food, a roof over our heads, a TV, a car, etc. It’s convenient. There, we had each other, and although it was primitive, there was much more connection between people. I took it for granted growing up. But not here. Here, I have to make time for the emotional connections I make with others.” I commented that I understood what he meant. I told him I had taken a year off to live in Italy when I was in my 30s, and that after being there a year, I observed that the Italians had created a daily routine that included about four to six events that allowed them to connect emotionally with each other ― early morning espresso at the coffee bar, midmorning cappuccino break, long lunches, drinks before dinner in the local square and dinner. We agreed that some cultures have foregone quality emotional interactions for efficiency.

As we pulled up to the curb at the airport, my driver turned to me with his bright eyes and big smile. “You know,” he said, “all people have that special something in them, that thing that’s so hard to describe but is always there. I call it love, and of all the things we have in this world, it’s the most precious. To have a good life, we have to share it.”

I smiled back at my Ethiopian messenger. He reminded me of something I read in the Bible as a child: “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:40.

This week, listen to the messages of grace, love and wisdom that come to you, often from the least likely places. Maybe it’s your child whose words remind you of what’s most important in your life. Perhaps it’s the produce guy at the grocery store who comments about vegetables in a way that reminds you how connected we are to the earth. Or maybe it’s a team member whose humorous remark in a moment, reveals something true about you.
These words of wisdom can come from anyone. Whatever the message, see them as gifts that come to you along the way.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”

Have a great holiday!


NOTE: The next coach’s challenge will be published Jan. 12, 2014.

© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

The Importance of Belonging

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about our need for friendship and belonging.

About a month ago, my 93-year-old mother-in-law became quite ill. After a long life of hard work and joyful activity, the matriarch of our family was now fading fast. As we stood by her bedside, saw her frail body and listened to her labored breathing, we struggled with the thoughts and emotions that inevitably come when you lose someone you love.

She had stopped eating. At each mealtime, we all tried to encourage her to take a few bites from the tray of food in front of her, but she would not. As her weight continued to drop, her face began to look more and more skeletal, and it seemed that with each passing day, the specter of death drew closer.

As this was happening, more and more people came to visit her. She lives in an apartment on the first floor of an assisted living center near the front entrance. At mealtimes, when the residents of the center make their way slowly with the aid of canes, walkers and scooters to the dining room, they have to pass my mother-in-law’s room and often stop in to see her on their way. When she became ill, the number of outside visitors who came to see my mother-in-law also increased. Everyone in the family stepped up their visits; we wanted to make sure someone was visiting her every day. And we engaged hospice and home nursing care for her as well.

At first, I wasn’t sure if all this traffic was good for her. What if someone had a cold — or worse? If she caught any type of virus at this point, it would be her end. What if she just needed peace and quiet? All this activity could take too much energy from her and not allow her to heal.

As the days wore on and we were all preparing for her demise, she began to get a little bit better. Slowly, she began eating again and gained back some of her strength. She went from napping most days to sitting up in bed chatting with visitors. We were all surprised by this change and wondered what precipitated it. In trying to get more information from her about the change in her behavior, we asked asked why she had stopped eating, her reply was, “I wasn’t hungry,” with her usual frankness. And now, apparently, her appetite was back.

Sitting with her one day at lunchtime, I watched as the steady stream of visitors came to see her on their way to lunch. It’s an entertaining bunch of old-timers. There is the 94-year-old ex-Marine who still wears his “Semper Fidelis” cap and tells WWII stories; the woman who wears purple and calls Mom “Sweetie,” which I don’t think Mom particularly likes but smiles when she says it anyway; the friendly woman who delivers stuffed animals to the very ill residents so that they always have a smiling stuffed rabbit or puppy propped up in the chair next to their bed for company; the couple who live just down the hall who are always holding hands; and the 98-year-old fellow who delivers my mother-in-law’s newspaper to her each day with a smile and sits by her bed to discuss the day’s headlines. I realized that all of these people who bring their love and friendship to her are keeping her alive. They help her feel like she belongs there with their loving kindness and attention. They give her a reason to continue to be a part of the community.

It’s so important for all of us to feel like we belong. Whether it’s to our family, group of friends or work team members, our sense of belonging is essential to our well-being. Our need for connection and contribution is part of our genetic makeup and without these things, we become more and more separate from humanity and ourselves.

This week, allow yourself to experience the joy of being connected to those you are closest to. Revel in the moments of love and affection you have with your family. Appreciate the time you spend with your teammates and what you discover about each other. Allow yourself to fully embrace the feelings of trust and commitment that come from working day in and day out with the same people. And remember how together you all make up a much bigger and better world.

As my mother-in-law started to feel better, she began to ask her caregivers to leave her front door open so that she could see the other residents walk past her door. Now, Mom’s door is open every day. As the other residents pass by, they wave and yell out, “Hi Jean, how ya doin’ today?” She always gives them a big smile and waves back with the comment, “Well, I’m still here!”

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

12/20/10 “Human Connection”

Good day, team,

A few years ago, I had a memorable experience with a wonderful young girl while traveling on a business trip. I wrote about it for the weekly challenge and it evidently, made a strong impression on a number of subscribers. In the past few weeks, I’ve received e-mails from them asking if I would re-publish the challenge about the ‘girl on the plane who could not speak’. After re-reading it, it seems particularly appropriate for this time of year. I offer it again with a grateful heart.
While flying back to Portland, I sat next to a 10-year-old girl named Bailey. 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 if she were made of fine porcelain and, if I wasn’t careful, she might break. I was also confused, unsure whether I should speak to her or not, since we usually receive some type of response in communicating.

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 would have a way to 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 Game Boy 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.

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.

This holiday, 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.

* Please note: The coach will be enjoying the holidays over the next two weeks. The next challenge will be published on 1/3/11. May the New Year bring us all more prosperity and peace!

Have a great week,


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