Wisdom From A Train Station…

skyeteam leadership development

Anchor points. I talk about this concept to just about anyone who will listen. Anchor points are those things in our lives that make things “normal.” We all have them, for me it’s things like the layout of the grocery store, the smell of rain on pavement, anticipating the opening riff to “The Four Horsemen” as soon as “Hit The Lights” ends when I’m listening to one of my favorite records (yeah, I called it a record – but vinyl is hip again, right?). It’s amazing to me how these points of reference can make a bad day good or a good day better or simply…help you find your groove when you’re feeling lost.

Something else that’s amazing to me is the speed with which something can actually become an anchor point. My family went to London on vacation this summer, and we had a BLAST! We did a lot of exploring. The easiest way to enable exploring in London is using the vast underground network of trains; affectionately referred to as “The Tube” in colloquial parlance (though it sounds more like “Choob” when spoken). We made heavy use of the Tube while we were there, and our “home” station was Earl’s Court. As we wandered through the station, I noticed a sign.

This sign was a nondescript whiteboard sort of sign with the title, “Service Information”. I wouldn’t have paid it much mind, but I’m a design nerd and the handwriting was blocky, like architectural lettering. I love this style and learned how to do it after my old singer (a one-time architecture major) used it for some of our old ’90s college band‘s flyers, and I just thought it looked cool. The sign was the “Earl’s Court Thought Of The Day,” and looked like this:

I thought it was nice. It made me think, it made me smile, and I was interested enough to snap a photo of it. Interestingly, I found myself thinking about it throughout the day.

The next day as we left on our explorations, we headed for the tube station. I saw the sign again. There was a new “thought.” I had all of the same reactions – think, smile, snap photo, and went on about my day.

Again, I found myself thinking about it later. I tried to pay attention to how I felt when I did. I liked it.

The next day, as we headed out, there was no new Thought of the Day. The Service Information sign still showed the prior day’s message. I was slightly bummed out, then I remembered that it was Saturday. I assumed that that it must be a weekday thing. I noticed, however, after only two days, I’d grown accustomed to this being a part of my day. Well, not just part of my day, it actually helped to frame my day. Weird.

On Monday, when we set off again, and the the sign was still there with Friday’s message on it. Now I was really bummed out…and motivated. I found an agent and asked, “Excuse me. I can’t help but notice that the ‘Thought of the Day’ sign still has Friday’s message on it.” He looked and me, smiled and said, “Really? Huh…she was just in here.” We chatted, and the way he told the story, it led me to believe that the person who does this every day, doesn’t even work there. She just comes in on her way to wherever she’s going, and writes the message.

That made me think and smile. How cool is that. Someone has taken it upon themselves to actively impact the lives of thousands of other people through a simple mechanism. It’s a low tech, completely free venue to put some good juju into the universe….and it’s working. She has an anchor point. I have an anchor point, and in just a couple of days in a city 5,000 miles away from home we shared that anchor point. Powerful!

On our return journey, the sign had been updated, and I got another jolt of positivity. I was really starting to like this.

This concept of “normal” is important to us as human beings. It allows us to make sense of our larger worlds. It’s a mechanism, by which, we can separate ourselves from the maelstrom of signals to which we are subjected every single day. When my life is moving too fast, out of control, getting ugly, or just plan overwhelming – I turn to one of these anchor points.

I get to do the best job in the world. I help people, teams, and companies get better…at whatever it is that they want to be better. I have a lot of wonderful anchor points in my life. I was taken aback by this one. It hit hard and it hit fast. The Earl’s Court Thought Of The Day (ECTOTD) put me in a better mood, had me thinking early, and had me thankful. Thankful for having the opportunity to see it. Thankful for being there. Thankful for being alive. Being grateful first thing in the morning is also powerful.

I’m thrilled to see that the ECTOTD is being posted by people every day. You can find them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or just by doing a Google image search. There are hundreds of thoughts of the day out there! I LOVE that I can actually continue to touch this anchor point whenever I want to.

We are in a unique situation as adult humans. We have the choice to let in the positivity, or not. We have the choice to tune into the uplifting resonance that  is out there in the world, or not. It’s really easy to do when we just pay attention, and it happens fast.

We spend a great deal of time at work. We need anchor points in our jobs. I work with many leaders who, sadly, do not have enough. For me, SkyeTeam is an amazing place to work, with some of the strongest HR/OD/L&D minds in the industry. I’m lucky. I get to partake in it every day. It’s littered with anchor points. We have clients with whom I’m honored to work. They are anchor points. I’ve had some of those clients tell me (not using my terminology, but the gist was the same) that we are anchor points for them. My friends, my girls, even the produce section of Whole Foods – anchor points all. Knowing what they are, and tuning in to them on a daily basis makes a huge difference in my life.

All this perspective, from a whiteboard sign in a train station.

Anchor points are powerful. Anchor points enable “normal.” I honestly believe that anchor points are the gateway to living your best life. I add to mine all the time.

What are yours? I’d love to know!