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I recall reading or hearing the phrase “Stay in your Lane” used by one of the many leadership legends whether John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Darren Hardy or Eric Worre. What was meant by this phrase – “Stay in Your Lane” – is to know yourself and be yourself. It is advice to come from your beliefs and passions at all times. Don’t let others and situations sway you from being your best you.
I had this message tested in the spring of 2016.
When I travel, my most powerful memories and experiences come from the people and the food.
April 1st, 2016 I was traveling to meet my sister in Bali, and I had some last-minute flight changes which created an overnight stay in Shanghai. An internet search yielded a good place to see for a short stay would be the Bund. The sites all state to be sure to see the Bund at night. As I arrived in the evening, this would be possible during my travels as I booked a hotel near there.
After a 16 hour flight, I chose to queue up for a taxi to take me to my hotel. While the internet search had stated these are inexpensive, the reality was at least a 10 fold difference. Small price to pay to get door to door after a full day's travel and a 13-hour time difference.
The drive took me into Shanghai and past the Bund at night. Thus I experienced all the buildings alight during the evening.
The parkway along the river was teeming with people and looked like an active fun place to be. I was not in a social mood, as I was looking forward to lying horizontal and being able to sleep for longer than twenty minutes. I had the next day to explore the area. My evening’s adventures consisted of views from a taxi and my hotel room window.
I learned the next morning why one is told to see the Bund at night: Smog.
The gorgeous nighttime view of endless buildings dazzling with lights became a dingy reduced view of dirty buildings surrounded by smog.
Well, I would take my time with breakfast and work my way on foot over to the Bund. Hopefully the sky would clear.
The walk over to the Bund took me past some beautiful gardens, museums and sites. The traffic itself is an adventure as a red light does not mean stop. It seems to merely be a caution sign as scooters and traffic keep going by. I would try to cross the street walking near a local so as to be safe.
While I am not a seasoned traveler, I am generally comfortable wherever I go. Yet being in China was the first time where I truly stood out as a tourist being Caucasian, blond and 5’ 10” tall. This does put one in a different state with a bit more apprehension than usual. But nonetheless, I strolled along taking in the sites and aiming to get information at the tourist center another guest had mentioned to me.
Unfortunately, this center did not open until noon or later and I knew I needed to be heading back to the airport by early afternoon. A bit discouraged and feeling out of place, I sat on a bench to collect my thoughts. While reviewing my options – go back to my room and eat my travel food or try and find my way about town – a young man sat next to me and started a conversation. While being pleasant, my radar was up as I did not want to be taken advantage of in any way. But as the conversation progressed, I received a good vibe and reminded myself of my own beliefs:
- I believe that the heart of man is inherently good
- My most powerful memories and experiences come from the people and the food
With these thoughts in mind, I “stayed in my lane” and lived from my inner belief system and ended up having a fabulous afternoon with an angel who took me about Shanghai to enjoy a tea room experience as well as a terrific lunch with classic food from the Hunan province of China – his hometown. In shaking off my apprehensions and listening to my intuition and my beliefs I experienced the people and the food while traveling alone half-way around the world. It truly does pay to “stay in your lane”!
One thing I did not take into consideration is that my contacts in my phone were set to automatically save to Google, yet Google doesn’t work in China. So, I have never been able to express my gratitude to Lucas from the Hunan province who was marrying Rachel in October 2016 and shared an afternoon with this crazy American.
If you come across this Lucas – thank you so very much for your generosity in sharing your country with me. I hope the essential oils were useful. I think of you often as I have my red tassel from the tearoom hanging from my rear-view mirror. It not only brings me luck but also keeps me centered and grounded in my beliefs.