Three Meals

All business.  Fly from San Francisco to Chicago.  Arrive one evening and leave the next evening.  One bag, one suit.  All business.

That was one week ago. A successful trip with the business result I desired. The script was simple enough, arrive at hotel and order room service as I prepare for my business the next day.  Once done with the business at hand, head back to the airport grabbing a quick-lunch on the go.  From there decide on airport terminal food or buy something on the plane.  Nothing glamorous, nothing profound. All business following a tight script.

Yet, the script changed and a better story unfolded. Food and good company changed my trip as I enjoyed three meals with three interesting people.  Three meals that put my life into perspective. Where I was, where I am, and where I want to go.  A story worth telling. My business trip was now a journey.

The first meal was dinner the night I arrived.  A business associate, who I have known for years, lives in Chicago. How could I say no to good company at a Chicago steakhouse?  We talked of friends who we worked with and have since moved on to new opportunities. We talked of our children, his young and my college age.  The conversation put me in a reflective mood. I thought of the days when my children were as young as his children and their years of growth.  I thought of my career and how my past holds firm to my present.  While others have moved on, my present is still anchored to my past.  This is the bond I need to break and let my past be my past.  It will happen and yes, I have a plan.

A good meal indeed.

My second meal was lunch the next day after my business was complete. A new business associate, who I met just that day, asked me to join him for lunch.  With some time to kill I gladly accepted.  As we got to know each other we talked of our kids and where we were with our careers.  The conversation was all about the present.  His children all graduated college in recent years and are doing well branching out across the country each with a different career.  These stories of his children gave me comfort in where my own children stand today in their preparation for the future.  His children took risks to follow their passion.  My children are set to do the same.  I reflected deeper. Age is no barrier and I too will do the same.

A good meal indeed.

My long day was near complete when I boarded my plane with a good book and noise-cancelling headphones.  Yet, I never used either.  I bought my meal on the airplane as did the woman sitting next to me on our flight westward.  She was reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.  I wrote of this powerful book before (read here). I mentioned to my seatmate how I enjoyed the book and I trust she will enjoy it as well.  This started a conversation that did not end until we landed in San Francisco.

Her stories of her children and extended family members were extraordinary.  Nothing was conventional.  Each child explored creative careers and reached a level of success.  She eventually disclosed that her son is an accomplished author.  She asked if I knew of his book series and related movie. Indeed I did.  Wonderful stories full of imagination.  With this meal and great conversation, I imagined the future for my children and indeed, for myself.  My children are wildly creative and well, the world needs wildly creative people.  Her stories convinced me that success comes to those who stay true to their dreams and stay close as a family.  A message for my children and self.  The world needs wildly creative people and yes, I am listening.

A good meal indeed.

My short business trip turned into a deeper journey.  A successful trip in many ways. I do not think United Airlines can give me enough frequent flyer miles to cover the distance I travelled.

– All the best and the journey continues

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