Who needs your help today?

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The airports during the holidays can leave even the most seasoned travelers, like me, dazed and confused. Who can you help today?

“I’m terribly lost,” she said frantically with cloudy, 84 year-old eyes.  “Can you help me?”

Nancy and I met last week at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the south terminal gate security.  I was focused and selfishly absorbed in my workday, preparing to race through TSA Pre-check on my way to Los Angeles for business. She was dazed and confused – walking in circles, trying to find the plane to Denver that would take her to celebrate Thanksgiving with her grandchildren.

When our eyes met, we shared a compelling mission.

Our flights were scheduled to leave at the same time — just 32 minutes from then, on opposite ends of the airport. As an experienced traveler, I knew passengers were already pre-boarding both planes. By helping Nancy, I added significant risk to catching my LA plane on time.

“I don’t know where I need to be,” she pleaded.  “I have my boarding pass, but I need to check this luggage,” she explained. Even though we were less than 20 yards from the South security station, bags like hers can only be checked at the North security station. “Come with me, I’ll help you!” came out of my mouth without thinking.

Visions of the 1980s O.J. Simpson Hertz commercials flashed through my head: we need to run, I thought.  Oh yeah: she can’t run. I smiled to myself at the challenge: What have I gotten myself into?

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Escalators can seem gruelingly slow when you are in a hurry to get through security.

Our 84-year-old sprint/walk was rewarded when the elevator opened before I even pressed the button. On the Tram level, we boarded the train without a wait (that never happens.) Eventually, we were inserting her passport into the luggage tag scanner. A Delta attendant noticed our frenzy and bypassed the other travelers to help us (that seldom happens.) As her bag was successfully tagged, the nice Delta lady said: “Nancy, your plane leaves in less than 15 minutes from Terminal F. I believe you can make it if you hurry.”

That’s good news, except neither of us had been through Security yet.

“At least at my age, I get to go through the fast lane in security,” Nancy attempted to soften the tension.  “Me too,” I smiled. We trotted into our brisk 84-year-old-lady pace and stepped onto the escalator to the Ticketing Level.  On the way up, she sighed, look straight into my eyes and said: “I’m going to call my daughter when I get on the plane and tell her I met an angel today.”

“Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!” Nancy said as we parted after security.

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Will I have the wealth, courage and adventurous spirit to travel when I’m 84 years old?

As I write this Thanksgiving story, I have no proof Nancy got onto her plane in time: I ran to my gate – feeling young, strong and calm.  All I know is my butt hit the seat just three minutes before they shut the passenger door. I stared out the oval window into the grey November sky and thought: “She’s going to call her daughter when she gets on the plane and tell her she met an angel today…”

This morning, I’m grateful because I just met another person I want to be when I grow up. What a gift! Will I have the wealth, courage and adventurous spirit to travel by myself when I’m 84 years old?  I hope so.

Good leaders make a habit of letting instincts take over even when self-responsibility is in the front of minds. And we are willing to take the risk of helping others, even when it multiplies the pressure of our day.

As you prepare for extra helpings of gratitude this week: please ask yourself…who needs your help today?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

9 Comments

  1. John on November 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    You are a good guy Paul Batz!



  2. John on November 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

    You are a good guy Paul Batz!



  3. Beau on November 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    A great story with great lessons! Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving season.



  4. Beau on November 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

    A great story with great lessons! Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving season.



  5. Russ Castleman on November 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I’ve been reading your blogs since joining the Good Leadership Certification in August. This blog embodies the goodness and selflessness I have come to respect in the way you lead. Thanks for sharing this, I’ve passed too many ’84 year old Nancy’s’ in life and am energized to say that the last few months have encouraged my development as a good leader. What is even more encouraging is the knowledge that what once took effort in becoming a good leader is quickly becoming instinctive. Thank you for modeling and cultivating good leadership.



  6. Russ Castleman on November 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I’ve been reading your blogs since joining the Good Leadership Certification in August. This blog embodies the goodness and selflessness I have come to respect in the way you lead. Thanks for sharing this, I’ve passed too many ’84 year old Nancy’s’ in life and am energized to say that the last few months have encouraged my development as a good leader. What is even more encouraging is the knowledge that what once took effort in becoming a good leader is quickly becoming instinctive. Thank you for modeling and cultivating good leadership.



  7. Ann Yaggie on November 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Paul, sounds like you found another “sticky note” to add to your collection!



  8. Ann Yaggie on November 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Paul, sounds like you found another “sticky note” to add to your collection!



  9. […] the 80-something-year-old woman I helped board an airplane in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.  You can re-read that blog here, or by downloading my new eBook: Good Leadership Today.  It’s Chapter […]



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