When I deplaned in Delhi, a man approached me and offered to pick up my suitcase and ferry it to the cab. I told him no, thank you.
I had limited cash with me, which I wanted to save for housekeeping (because that is a hard job!), and I was pretty sure that if this gentleman picked up my bag, he would expect a tip.
Even when I said no, he picked up my bag anyway, and once I was in the car, he did, in fact, ask for a tip.
Not wanting to be confrontational, I tipped him.
But I felt annoyed and manipulated.
During the cab ride, I thought, “Not only does travel allow us to jump to new S Curves to see new places and sights and sounds, but it also facilitates testing to see how much progress we’ve made on the S Curves we are already on.”
I could have been firmer about my “no.” Really, no. Do not take my bag. There may have been consequences, but I could have used this as an opportunity to practice saying no, a skill I’d like to develop more.
Or, I could have known that this is the cultural norm. In the airport in India, people will carry your bag, so bring sufficient cash for tipping.
Even better, I could have thought, “Here is a man working very hard to support his children and/or his parents, and wow, his hustle is so impressive. I admire his work ethic.” I could have gladly given him not just a couple of dollars but five or even ten. (Note: I especially appreciate Caroline Webb’s writing about her travel experience, talking about how to empathize when you’re annoyed.)
Personal disruption is a process of deliberate self-innovation. When we put ourselves in new situations, there are far more friction points than usual. That is important to test –– especially when it comes to the S Curves of our character, of our emotional regulation –– how we are growing.
I didn’t do particularly well; if I’m measuring myself on an absolute scale of generous character, I’d like to be Mother Teresa. On the other hand, I was aware of how I was showing up as a human being in the interstitials / the transit points of my life, where no one I knew was around to observe me. I’ve improved from where I was a few years ago. The goal, of course, is to be better yet in the future.
Perhaps the bigger test is being aware of what I didn’t do well and holding that in tension with the things I did do well, the ways I did show up as I would hope.
If we only look at what worked, we miss the opportunity to see what didn’t work. We need to see that to improve. But we can also overfocus on the ways we still don’t show up as we’d like.
We can evaluate successes and failures personally but also with our team or family. On projects, look for what is going right, not only for what isn’t. If we want to help people move up the S Curve, even give them an extra push up the S Curve, remember that growth results from trial, error, and success.
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety (or know someone who has), this week’s podcast is for you. My guest is Morra Aarons-Mele, author of The Anxious Achiever, who talks not only about managing anxiety but also some of the upsides of anxiety.
As always, thanks for being here!
P.S. If you are a coach or leader looking for an opportunity to help others grow, check out the Disruption Advisors’ Smart Growth Certification program. Learn more and register here.