Ancient statue of Confucius

With the work we do, a lot of our clients are interstate and overseas.  This means spending a lot of time on planes sitting next to and meeting a range of diverse, interesting people with their own stories to tell.   I learn a lot from people on these flights listening and learning from their insights as it helps me reflect where I am on my own journey.

One particular recent trip sticks out for me.  I was travelling to Tasmania for a local government conference for easygovernment through Melbourne.  I boarded the plane in Adelaide at a red eye time and sat down in readiness for the flight.  As we were nearing take off, a lady sat next to me and introduced herself.  From the start, her energy and enthusiasm for life was very visible.   We will call her Tracey for the sake of this blog.  Tracey was also travelling through to Hobart as well which was a pure coincidence.

Through the flight, we got talking about a range of things.  This included discussing what Tracey did, her goals and what she is passionate about.   What was interesting was Tracey explaining a series of events that had occurred in the last three weeks where she had let go of a lot of baggage and negative influences and was starting to get very clear on what she wanted in life.  In order to do this, it had meant Tracey had shifted to being very open to feedback, interactions and experiences in the last three weeks.  There had been for her a noticeable change in energy, opportunities and insights since emptying her cup or letting go of the things that would not take her to where she wanted to go.

We got off the plane in Melbourne to then board a plane to Hobart. As we were lining up to board our second plane, we checked where we were seating.  By pure luck, we were sitting together again on the next flight!  Was this luck or the stars aligning?  Perhaps a bit of both but it allowed us to continue the great conversation on the next flight.

It got me thinking around whether we are too busy in life or whether it is just that our cups are too full to take advantage of opportunities, or be freed up enough to even spot them.  We are so busy being busy that we do not slow down so we can speed up to identify what success looks like for us and not what others want for us.   Further, do we fill our lives with busyness and distractions to mask our true goals and passions in the hope that it will fill the hole or gaps that exist?

There is a great Confucius saying that “when the student is ready the coach arrives”.  I am a big fan of this quote as it speaks to me about being open minded enough and present to take advantage of opportunities and insights when they arrive.  However, I also believe that for this to occur, we need to “empty our cups” so that we can let these opportunities come into our lives or present themselves otherwise the opportunity or insight may not get a look in.

I look forward to seeing Tracey set her goals, back herself and have a positive impact with her clients and the people that matter to her.  I also thank her and others I meet for the opportunity for me to reflect and learn from their insights and how it applies to how I am living my life.  The student may benefit when the coach arrives, but this saying does not do justice to the fact that the coach by teaching learns just as much, if not more, from listening to the student!