The middle seat

I was recently flying back from Los Angeles upon completing a two-day leadership seminar for a group of business professionals.  After a ninety-minute, nerve wracking twenty-mile uber ride from the hotel to the airport, I was able to make it through security and to my gate with a few minutes to spare.  The traffic in LA is everything you have heard it to be and more.  I learned my lesson to allow at least two hours of travel time to go twenty-minutes on future trips to LA.

At the gate, I had a few minutes to reflect on my day and realized that I had not really done anything for someone else that day.  Several years ago, I was continuing to work through some personal challenges of regret, disappointment, and discouragement that others are likely to go through at some point in their life.  I have written about these issues before and recall my personal favorite article last year titled “Better not Bitter”.  One of the key steps in my progression of dealing with these issues was to start intentionally performing some act of service for another person each day.  

The act of service could be an encouraging text message, a phone call, a hand-written note, a physical act performed in the moment, or any number of other options that would be totally focused on serving another person.  This process has been life impacting for me by refocusing my thoughts toward others and off myself.  I am not neglecting myself by any means.  I still get up early, go through a hard workout, and prepare myself for the day.  The daily intentional focus of serving another person though has totally changed my perspective and helped me deal with all those other issues in a positive manner.

Back at the gate, my thoughts went to who I could contact via phone or text, but I recalled a note I read earlier that morning about seeking out the most uncomfortable seat on a plane to further develop the concept of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations in life.  While I agree with the concept, I saw another opportunity with that same example.  I considered who I could give up my aisle seat for on this flight to serve an individual that I had never met.  I now had my plan for my intentional act of service for the day.

Sure enough, I had just sat down in my aisle seat when I saw a young couple separating as they boarded the plane.  The young man was going to be sitting next to me while his wife was several rows in front of us in a middle seat.  He looked at me and was beginning to ask me something, but I cut him off.  I told him I would be glad to switch seats so they could sit together.  I assumed he was going to ask, but I had to beat him to the punch.  Sure enough, I was now in a middle seat in front of a 6-year-old that kicked the back of my seat and complained to his mom the entire flight.  It was uncomfortably awesome!