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I’m embarrassed by how rattled I was with a taxi driver last week – have you ever just snapped?
“Excellence” in the professional speaking and coaching business starts with being prompt.
The client and I agreed in advance: the travel risk related to my early morning flight was acceptable – I’d made it successfully a dozen times before. But this time I was the featured speaker at a leadership discussion beginning at 1PM. Not much margin for error.
My blood pressure rose as the plane sat on the tarmac, stalled just a few feet away from the Jet Bridge in Austin, Texas…I’m sure Delta will say we arrived “on time” but I knew how much every moment counted: now I was down to 42 minutes to speech time.
I climbed into cab #170 without a wait. “I’m heading to the Westin Hotel in Domain (a prestigious Austin suburb)” I said in response to Ahmed’s request. The skin on my neck started burning with his blank stare. He obviously had never heard of “Westin” or “Domain,” and instead of checking, he just drove away. “Stop!” I said… “Don’t you know what direction we are going?” I yelled/pleaded (I didn’t know either.) He shook his head sideways while staring at me in the rear view mirror. With English as his second language (maybe third or fourth) he said something like “I will find it.”
Now completely stopped in the middle of the airport exit lane, the Taxi Master started yelling at us. Ahmed was obliviously typing with his index finger: “W-E-S-T-I-N” into the GPS glued to the windshield. My response was to get out of the cab. But the Taxi Master wouldn’t let me out because of a local ordinance…I guess in Texas, once we leave the curb we’re committed to our cabbie. Was I in a horror movie? I wondered.
I lost it. It was a classic arrogant American outburst. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes we just snap? I’m lucky he didn’t crash the car from my outburst.
Siri saved the day again. Now off the freeway, we were just 1.7 miles from my destination: 8 stoplights left, and 9 minutes before showtime. The weight of my stupidity was worse than the wait at the stoplights. Have you every noticed how long stop lights last when you are stressed?
Settling myself, I meditated in the back of the cab: Where is the goodness in all of this? I pondered how hard it must be to land a taxi job just off the plane from a foreign country? I wondered how hard it must be to deal with jerks like me. And how far would a $10 tip would go toward repairing my reputation?
The tires screeched to a stop at 12:57, with the client standing inside the door, pacing. Just as I was about to apologize to my cabbie for my rude outburst, he turned to me with a wide toothy smile and shouted with relief: “Thank you for getting me here! I so happy.”
HE was thanking ME!! The goodness was in him.
I wanted to crawl under the seat. My worries about being late paled in comparison to the stress I heaped upon him. My client would have understood my tardiness. Could I have jeopardized this poor guy’s job?
Good leaders make a habit of accepting their own fragility in moments when they just “snap.” And we search for the goodness in everything, because it’s always there.
Will you please share a moment that tested your goodness? I need to know that I’m not alone…[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]