I recently returned from a trip to London, England where I, like everyone who visits that amazing city, used the London Underground transit system, or the TUBE as it is best known, as my major mode of transportation. The Tube is, to London, as iconic as the Statue of Liberty is to NYC, or the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. With it's first station built in 1863, and a staggering volume of over 1.2 billions riders per year, it occurred to me that this historical transit system could hold a few life lessons.
WISDOM FROM THE LONDON TUBE
CONNECTING IS CRITICAL
With over 250 miles of track and 270 stations on 11 different lines that criss-cross and intersect the City of London and suburbs, the TUBE is the critical way for Londoners to connect. Interconnecting tracks and hubs provide the opportunity to switch directions and change trains with a great degree of flexibility and efficiency.
Reflection Point: How well do you connect with others? Is your approach efficient? Flexible? Comprehensive? Do you connect with people in many different ways or rely on only one way?
1/ For each of the most important people in your life, write down your main methods and points of connection with them as they are currently.
eg/ Best Friend: Current Methods of connection: Emails/occasional get-togethers
2/ Now, pick a new method or point of connection with that person and experiment with it.
eg/ Phone your best friend one night to chat
3/ See how many new ways and points of connection you can add with your closest relationships.
Notice what happens.
MIND THE GAP
A lovely voice comes on the P.A. as one approaches a station and reminds you to "Please mind the gap" (between the train door and the platform) in order to avoid injury. It is necessary to remind everyone to get present and consciously be mindful and aware while exiting or entering the trains to avoid mishaps.
Is there anywhere in your life that you need to be reminded to stay aware, and be present and mindful? Are you walking through any part of your life on auto-pilot and perhaps missing things by not being present?
Experiment: Take an action that you routinely go on autopilot to accomplish. Something like blow drying your hair, or eating your cereal, or driving to work. Now, just as consciously, experiment with being fully aware and present while doing that action. What do you notice?
SOMETIMES, YOU HAVE TO GO DEEP
The Tube's deepest station extends underground 192 feet below street level. Many stations were built deep as it actually caused less disruption and was cheaper than the cut and cover construction method. The really deep stations require an incredibly steep escalator ride to get to the platform. As terrifying as that is, it is also necessary.
Reflection Point: As in life, sometimes staying on the surface is not as effective or doesn't serve us as well as going deep.
Think about an area in your life, or a relationship, in which there could be benefits to going "deeper"? (even though the thought may terrify you!) Take one action today to begin the process of getting below the surface. What happened?
HOLD ON TO YOUR TICKET
When riding the Tube, you must hang on to your ticket because you need to have it read again at the turnstile in order to exit the Tube. If you lose your ticket, you must either pay again, or sweet- talk a security guard into letting you exit the station.
That's a little like life isn't it? You need to remember where you have been in order to go where you want to go. The lessons of the past pave the way for the future.
So rather than ignoring, or moving on and dispensing with our past too quickly, we would be better served by reflecting on our journey and celebrating what got us to this point, before we blindly forge ahead to the new destination.
Take some time today to celebrate your journey and from whence you have come. Look at the past year, and write a list of all of the lessons you have learned, mountains you have climbed, and good times you have had already in 2012. Celebrate your journey today.
ALWAYS READ THE SIGNS
Jumping on a train without reading the signs closely could be a waste of time as not all trains go down a complete line. Even if heading in the correct direction, not every train goes the full distance.
Like life, it is important for us to read the signs and reevaluate and revise our plans in order to choose the path that will lead us to where we want to go.
Look at an area of your life that you want to shift and ask yourself the following questions:
What signs do I need to start reading in order to move forward and make the changes I want?
Am I perhaps so hell-bent on one way to do something that I am missing other important signs that might shorten my journey?
SOMETIMES IT'S FASTER TO WALK
Yes, even with the efficient Tube system, sometimes it is faster to walk to your destination.
Is there an alternate possibility to get to where you want to go in life?
Spend 15 minutes today thinking about an area of your life in which you are currently in the process of changing or growing. Let your mind drift into the wonderful land of possibility, and write down all of the myriad of ways that you might proceed in that area.
Look at your list and ask: Would it be wise to shift or adapt your current methodology or approach? Does it serve you best to stay riding the Tube or would it be faster for you to walk?