Grateful to a drunken Albatross

My meeting in Sacramento that morning had gone well, almost as well as the one I’d just finished in Minneapolis. Sitting back in my comfortable seat on the airplane, my moment of reflective gratitude towards everyone and everything that had contributed towards my great day was abruptly interrupted by the pilot’s not-so-relaxed voice over the intercom “……………..”  Truth be told, I’ve no idea what he said, all I heard was a voice inside my head telling me “Brace yourself mate, we’re going down” as the plane suddenly buckled, then plummeted, then somehow caught its self before plummeting earthwards again “… winds are blowing in at 45 miles per hour with gusts of up to 55 miles per hour… it’s going to be a bumpy landing” the pilot reassured us. Bumpy landing indeed… the plane was bucking like a drunken albatross trying to land on a tiny piece of flotsam during a thunderstorm.

Driving home 40 minutes later, my phone rang. It was my wife Carrie. It was almost midnight and I was surprised that she was calling. Usually by this time, she’d be fast asleep.

“Where are you? Are you OK? The wind… it’s all over the news…”

“I’m fine sweetheart. I’m in my car. I’ll be home soon.”

As I navigated the windswept streets, shaking a little as some adrenaline still coursed through me, I thanked God that I was fine… in post survival euphoria, my mind was drawn to thinking about how cool it is that as a motivational speaker life is often pretty exciting and how I’m incredibly fortunate to have the privilege to indulge my passion and gallivant around the globe sharing my message… often oblivious to the costs and the risks, most notably those being paid and carried, without complaint, by my loved ones.

My recent tumble in the skies forced me to re-examine our family’s paradigm. Given that I’m not about to change careers, my experience prompted me to let my nearest and dearest know how much I appreciate them, the sacrifices they make and the support they provide. It’s a little disconcerting to realize that in the face of my commitment to indulge my passion to take care of and help other people (run my business), I’ve begun (on occasion) to take for granted the contribution made by the people who help and take care of me.

Maybe I’m over reacting to my perceived near brush with death… or maybe it was a wake up call… that it’s time for me to worry less about sharing my message and more about living it… after all “I am the sum of my choices and right now I’m who, what and where I choose to be in life.”

I’m not going to work anymore today… instead I think I’ll go play in the park with my wife and kids. I’ve got to remember that first and foremost I’m a dad, a husband and a friend who has a life to live. I also need to get over myself and accept that if I step away from my computer and telephone, the odds are that tomorrow the sun will still rise, my business will continue to flourish and the people I thoroughly enjoy serving, will probably still be there too.


Success simplified; lessons learned down a hippo's throat. Speaker, Author, Coach who will parachute in when traditional solutions won’t get it done.

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  1. Paul, I was drawn into your post in so many ways. Glad you are safe and sound. Glad Mr. Motivational Speaker won’t be reading this today because he’s too busy playing with his precious family.

  2. So glad you are choosing to be the “sum of all your parts” in a park with family right now!

  3. Wonderful post Paul! Thank you for once again reminding me what’s important. As I read your post I was reminded of the time I planned a spontaneous moment. I’m sharing it in case you want a laugh: 

    From your motivational speaker friend who is no longer afraid to fly – even if it means I might crash.

  4. Thanks Paul – you remind me of the late Art Berg who said he works on planes so that when he is home, he is totally present with his wife and kids.  You’re family is very fortunate to have you as their dad!!!

  5. Paul, you are such a powerful, positive reminder of what it takes to live a happy life.  It takes consciousness, defining your values and then recalibrating every single day to get back on track when those winds try to blow you off course.  I am in awe of you, Paul.

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