In August of 2013, while in the Austin, Texas airport, I sat sipping a cup of coffee at the airport café before boarding my flight to my next workshop in Denver.
As I wait for my departure time announcement, I people-watch. The next encounter would be one I will always remember. I had a 7-minute education from a lovely 5-year old little girl named Natalie, dressed in pink from head to toe, pulling her compact pink and purple backpack. She and her mom, dad and big brother were on their way to Disneyworld when our paths intersected.
Natalie became the teacher and I was her student that day as she taught me: 7 Life Lessons To Remember No Matter What Age You Are!
During our brief conversation, I learned that her birthday is June 27thand her favorite colors are pink and purple. She was fascinated with colors and hoped to teach me a few in case I did not know my colors. Her lesson began by naming every color she saw around us. As I recall, she knew them without one mistake. And each time she saw a color, like a blue suitcase rolling by, she quickly added other “Blue Things.” The sky is blue. My brothers bike is blue. My mommy’s eyes are blue. The next color to catch her eye was green. And off she went into a litany of green things.
When I asked her about her trip, she admitted that this was her first airplane flight and that she was a little afraid. Her primary fear was of getting lost. We discussed holding on to her mommy’s hand so that would never happen. She spontaneously grabbed her mommy’s hand and mine as well. I was surprised at her immediate trust of someone she’d just met.
As we continued to talk, topics bounced around. Next to pop into her head was that mommy had told her she must eat her vegetables. And that she was supposed to take a nap on the airplane so when she woke up she’d almost be at Disneyworld. Unlike grownups, Natalie had no notion of what topic would be appropriate “airport conversation.”
As her mother and dad indicated it was time to move on to their gate, I asked Natalie to promise me to hold on to her mom’s hand and eat her vegetables. At that point she walked very close to me and locked her tiny little finger into mine. I had never been asked to make a “Pinky Swear.” The serious look on her face indicated she definitely would keep her “Pinky Swear” promise.
She then put her arms around my neck and gave me three hugs. Waved goodbye and began the long walk down the airport hallway, holding her mommy’s hand. She took a few steps and turned around and waved to me. The pauses and goodbye waves continued for what seemed to be an eternity. She probably did not see the tears rolling down my face. All sound ceased. People disappeared. All that remained was the tiny figure of Natalie turning the corner and waving for the last time.
It’s been 5-years since that chance meeting and recalling it still brings me to tears.
What are Natalie’s Seven Life- Lessons?
- If you’re lucky and look, you’ll see a favorite color everywhere.
- Be brave. Help others to be brave even if you’re doing something for the first time ever.
- Hugs are free. Give three.
- Pinky Swears must be locked to be binding.
- Share stories and toys.
- If you’re afraid, it’s ok to hold someone’s hand.
- It’s Ok to keep looking back when you wave goodbye. However, once you turn the corner, it’s time to look ahead for your next adventure.
Natalie, thank you for teaching me those essential and practical instructions.
Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach. She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success.