Going the Extra Mile

I just came back from a weekend trip to Phoenix where I had a chance to do what I love to do: teach a workshop on the practical application of the timeless truths about money.  While I went there to teach, I ended up learning quite a bit as well, including some lessons about going the extra mile from some unlikely sources.

Right after I arrived, I boarded a standing-room-only bus headed for the rental car facility and the driver began what I assumed would be the standard safety announcements.  But this driver’s approach was different.  After the obligatory instructions about staying seated or hanging onto the handrails, he launched into a passionate and fascinating history of the Phoenix airport.  He talked during the entire 10-minute trip, telling us about the airport’s opening 75 years ago, and how Eleanor Roosevelt’s trip to take part in the opening ceremonies was delayed by cows grazing on the grass runways. Another plane had to be dispatched to buzz the field and scare away the cows.  At the end of the trip, just about every passenger handed him a healthy tip.  It’s a safe bet that he’s one of the top earners among airport bus drivers.

The other experience happened at the church where I taught a workshop. As I stood by a table of my books after one of the morning services, an older man approached me holding a flyer promoting the afternoon workshop.  He was wondering if he was in the right place.  The man was well dressed, but in fashions from another era; a few of his front teeth were missing.  After he left, someone told me the man was homeless.

When the workshop started he was sitting right in front.  He was actively engaged in the workshop, providing a thoughtful comment on a question I asked of all participants and taking notes.

Both of these gentlemen inspired me.  We can either be defeated by our circumstances or rise above them.  We can either live life on autopilot or step up to a more engaged and adventurous life.  We can either be irritated by inconveniences or realize that every day is a gift.

All too often, I settle for the former in each of these sets of options, although I aspire to the latter. What about you?  Think of your family, your career, your finances.  Where are you settling?  How could you step up?


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