Life has a funny way of presenting you with amazing opportunities that if you are too busy or too distracted will pass you by forever.
I had one such opportunity back in January that I still chuckle at today and the main protagonist is a car window!
This read will be a slow burner, but stick with it. I will make a point eventually!
Let me paint the scene for you. The location is Slough Train Station. It was a bright morning with a few clouds trying to look important. Overnight rain had left its mark, and drivers had to play that game of don’t splash the pedestrians!
Now for those of you that don’t live in the UK and aren’t familiar with Slough, it has shall we say a little bit of a reputation, and not the best one either (not offence to the people of Slough). This is important, remember this detail.
I parked at the station and was faffing around with how to pay for parking with no cash. I am ashamed to say it took me about 10 minutes to work out a solution.
In my defence I had just got back from Switzerland the previous night, so I was certainly not at my best.
After my mini meltdown I was finally on my way to the station when I heard a quiet voice “excuse me, excuse me!”. It was a lady, Katharine, having some car trouble- “could you help me with my window?”
It was stuck open and it wouldn’t wind all the way up. Now remember how I said Slough doesn’t have a great reputation, well it really is not the place to leave your car for multiple hours unattended at a train station with the window half open. Honestly!
To cut a long story short I spent 15-20 minutes trying to close her window. We tried everything to no avail but in the course of trying, we struck up a conversation. She worked in the charity sector and had an air about her. A quiet, humble, unassuming air, but one that you felt had purpose. This is important, remember this detail.
We exchanged contact info, parted ways and I hopped on my train to London. I decided to send a quick email apologising for not being able to help (very British), wished her well in getting it fixed quickly and mentioned I’d be interested in learning more about their volunteer roles.
To my surprise I received a delightfully warm response with the kind offer of a coffee to say thank you (very British). We arranged a date and had the most lovely conversation that ranged from pain, loss, challenges of the charity sector, business, politics- the lot.
At the end of the conversation, again to my surprise, she asked me whether I would be interested in becoming a Trustee. Now I left out the following piece of information for dramatic effect- drumroll please– it turns out she was CEO of an amazing charity- Adviza.
Their Our mission (I said yes) is inspiring people to make better decisions that help them progress in learning and work. At a time when it seems where there will be a global need for services that support people who have to make critical life decisions, I couldn’t have written this script.
So that was a story all about how… I’m now a Trustee. Go figure! (Kudos if you get the 90’s inside joke here!)
I said yes because every fibre of my being believes that the work of Adviza is critically important.
To encourage young adults from often disadvantaged backgrounds that dreaming big isn’t just for the privileged, that they too have something of immense and unique value to offer the world.
To provide career advice to those that need a little help navigating an increasingly complex world of work and face the very real prospect of being made redundant as the country shuts down for an indefinite period.
To inspire school children with the idea that they have the potential to make a positive difference in society despite the significant challenges the world is facing.
If you’re reading this I encourage you to take 5 minutes and look into our work. If you have an idea, a contact or an even a lead, please do reach out.
Now more than ever we need organisations that are willing to help the huge amounts of people the will be economically displaced by the world shutting down due to that-which-shall-not-be-named.
Cool story Seth, but I’m still waiting for the point…
Nearly there, I promise!
I shared all the little details of the story because every time I reflect on where I am today I realise how different my life could have been if situations had turned out differently.
Take meeting Katharine at Slough train station:
What would have happened if I hadn’t taken 10 minutes faffing with parking? What if I didn’t have a mindset to try and help her? What if I was in such a rush for my meeting that I said “sorry I can’t help, I have a train to catch.” What if I had found a different parking spot nearer the station so never walked past her? What if I had decided to go from a different train station? What if my meeting was on a different day?
I could go on ad infinitum. There are infinite possibilities in just this little story. Now take a moment to realise these scenarios play out everyday in our lives. Every choice we make opens and closes an infinite amount of subsequent possibilities.
What leaps out to me is the power of choice. More specifically the intention, mindset and view of ourselves and the world that drives those choices. Who you are, who you want to be, how you feel- these are just a few of the factors that determine the choices we make on a daily basis.
The point: the North Star you decide for your life has a huge impact on the choices you make every day- pick wisely.
Want to make a load of money- you’ll make decisions that optimise for that goal. Want to be famous? The same.
But what if your North Star is to ‘do good’?
What if you wanted to make a positive impact on the world? What if you committed your life to providing an opportunity for others that they wouldn’t have otherwise? What if you nurtured that spark of unique awesomeness in someone else and watched it turn into a blaze that positively changes lives, communities and the world?
The world is locking down, but our power of choice isn’t locked away. We still have the power to choose who we are, who we want to be and what impact we want to have in the world- the power to choose our North Star.
Choose a North Star that compels you to sow hope, kindness and love.
Choose a North Star that builds not destroys.
Choose a North Star so that people remember you as ‘the one that helped when I was in need’.
So Katharine, I’m sorry I couldn’t help with your window, but I hope to be able to help you a little in your amazing work!