From stranded at the station to inspiration for overcoming problems

It’s pouring with rain and the wind is beating me back as I alight from the train. The platform is empty, except for the guard. “Is there a taxi rank?” I ask. “Go to the shop and you can call one.” But the shop is closed.

After wondering aimlessly around the quaint, rural station for a few minutes I spot a woman who has just pulled up in a Range Rover.  It’s one of the old green, boxy ones that looks like a relic from the war. She’s tall and slim with blonde hair and id elegantly dressed. Her emerald green, suede stilettos are as striking as her bright red lipstick and broad, friendly smile.

After trying to call a cab for me, she shakes her head indicating that no taxis are available. “Come on, I will give you a lift, it’s not too far” she beams.

A few minutes later we are trundling along and she happily confesses that she wouldn’t normally be here at this time, but today is different. “I’ve just been fired from my job.” She is still smiling as she shares her shocking news.

I’ve known him or 15 years and worked with him for just over 2.  But someone had to speak to him about his behaviour.  It’s really having a bad impact on the team.  So… he responds by sacking me.”  Her tone is nonchalant.

I express my surprise that she is so cheery after having such bad news – “why?”

Her smile broadens even more “funnily enough I was approached about another job and wasn’t sure what to do about it. But you know what they say – when one door closes…”

The conversation turns to why I am here and I tell her that tomorrow I will be speaking on business growth and leadership. I share my own experiences and answer her pointed questions about my belief that business success and leadership are inextricably linked.

That’s amazing. Only this morning we had someone come in to speak to us about leadership. In fact I organised it. It’s a shame that more people aren’t attending events like yours. It’s so important for them to understand this stuff. ”

I nod in agreement, adding “to be honest it was my own experiences of poor leadership that helped me to learn how not to do it when I became a leader myself.” She replies:

“It’s ironic, that I end up getting the sack on the day when I meet two people who are so passionate about business and leadership ”

We arrive at the hotel. She hops out and moves quickly to the back of the truck, rummages around the various bags that she had placed in the boot earlier and we exchange cards.

I ask if there’s anything that I can do to repay her kindness. Looking serious for the first time she says:

“Nope. I just hope the people that you are speaking to tomorrow listen to what you say. I wish my boss had understood this kind of stuff. Things would’ve been different.”

She’s smiling again as she gets back into the truck and heads off down the road.

In this brief exchange this amazing woman has left an indelible impression on me.  Not only because of her kindness and generosity, but because she displays one of the qualities that I so admire – turning a problem into an opportunity – a core concept of business success in my view.

The next morning, I can’t wait to share this story. It really brought home the points I make and audience love it. “That was so inspiring” says one of the participants as everyone in the room nods in agreement.

Maybe you’re facing problems in your business or career that seem insurmountable?  Perhaps you are a leader who knows that it’s time to change your thinking and approach?

I hope you can draw inspiration from this experience and look for the opportunity in the midst of the problem. I guarantee that, like the lady in the green shoes, you will find it and when you do – embrace it wholeheartedly.


You can hear Barbara speak about leadership and business growth at On Your Marks, Get Set, Grow! 20th March in Leicester. Click here for more information and to book.

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