Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Time Flight

     This story may turn out to be one of my favorites from the whole year.  I'll write the first part of it now, and then write the rest when the story is completed in a few weeks.  It actually began a few weeks ago when I was working with a client helping to facilitate a company retreat.
     The facilitation that I was doing involved a series of exercises that took most of the morning, after which the whole company got together for lunch.  I found myself seated at a table with 8 or 10 people and we began talking about a variety of things including my crazy travel schedule of late.  During the course of the conversation, one of the young women, a wonderful person who had won an award for the best spirit in the company, revealed that she had never in her life been on an airplane!  Thinking this to be somewhat unusual these days, I asked her why.  She explained that she wasn't afraid, but just never had the opportunity.  This got me thinking of a way to change that.
     I suggested that we could easily solve that problem and offered to use some of my frequent flier miles to send her on her first trip and asked her where and when she wanted to go.  Her original thought was to visit her grandmother in Florida.  Over the next few days we discussed it over e-mail and for a variety of reasons the Florida destination wasn't working.  However, she and her family thought they might be able to pool some Xmas money and use it to surprise her mother (who also apparently had never been on a plane!)  and have her accompany the daughter on a "bucket list" trip to Vegas.
     This was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I told her that I'd fly both she and her mother to Vegas and they could use their own money for the hotel and entertainment.  I'm happy to report that the tickets have now been purchased (I was even able to send them first class in one direction) and my new friend is set to go with her mother on a dream trip in early December.  
     This weekend my friend surprised her mother with the details of the trip.  Previously she had only let her know that she needed to take vacation days from work for the agreed upon time.  Apparently her mother was totally shocked and incredibly excited for this mother-daughter adventure.  
     Of course, never wanting to miss a pay-it-forward opportunity, I've asked (and they've readily agreed) that both mother and daughter do at least one act of kindness (beyond what they might normally have done) each day of their trip, and that they let me know what happened.  
     I'm truly excited to be able to facilitate this incredible experience for them.  On the one hand, it may seem weird that a relative stranger would offer to send them on a trip simply as a result of a casual lunchtime conversation.  But that's what's so wonderful and fun about acts of kindness.  We don't have to be constrained by "normal" rules or protocol.  We can simply see a need and respond to it.  And if we can include a pay-it-forward piece, we can start a huge wave of kindness spreading to who knows where.  After all, that's what this year has really been about.

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