On the Highroad, you never know where two paths that seem unrelated will intersect. For the first several years of my life I wanted to be an astronaut, like many little kids in my culture. But the obsession didn’t wear off with time. I attended flight school for three years in hopes of reaching NASA stardom (not the Hollywood variety) through being a pilot, and I studied ocean biology at university to supplement my credentials. I looked to the stars and would not let go of this dream, no matter how much my heart told me otherwise.
In spite of the desire to go the route of science, my real love was always writing and speaking. While I hammered away at calculus in college, miserable but determined, I took solace in my writing courses, and grabbed every chance to speak in public. All the while I ignored the signals that I would be happier if I could be honest with myself. In my third year of college I gave in to the heart and have never looked back. I have been training, speaking, writing and coaching ever since.
I believe, however, that we never leave behind the dreams of our childhood; they continue to hold meaning for us in some way. Last week I was on the road again, this time headed for Ohio to conduct a class. This was my second time helping this client, a large global corporation, and we had a wonderful time exploring how to smooth out processes between the US and India.
The first time I had come here, I was driving down highway 75 and I spotted a sign: Exit 111 -Neil Armstrong Museum – Next Right. Still being a huge fan of the early space program I decided to stop by next time I was in Ohio. I did just that. After class, I spent the evening chatting with people in the restaurant and hotel. This small town near Dayton was a different culture for me in many ways, and I wanted to know more about the folks who made their lives here. I always felt welcome everywhere I went here, and the next morning was no exception.
After an amazing breakfast at Bob Evans Restaurant I packed my bag, checked out and headed for the Neil Armstrong Museum not far up the road. The Armstrong family had moved to Wapakoneta, Ohio when Neil was 13 years old, and the state takes great pride in him with good reason! When I pulled up to the parking lot I felt the familiar stirring inside, the dream of my own far journey, not given up but reinvented. I was greeted by mock-ups up a Gemini capsule and a domed entrance.
Ice had hardened on the ground, the wind was blowing and bleak clouds covered the sky, but I felt like a kid again as I headed toward the museum. As I mentioned in a previous post, I love walking in the footsteps of great historical figures, and seeing artifacts from great times. I feel as though the impact those people and things had on our society crosses time and allows me to experience it, even if not first hand.
The museum staff was incredibly friendly and I was one of maybe three people there on a cold Wednesday morning. I wandered around in awe, looking at Armstrong’s Apollo space suit, his Gemini capsule (not a mock-up!) and his history.
I imagined how brave he must have been, but he looked so calm in every picture, his voice even and cool in every interview. I took my time reading the stories and weaving them with my own, even though I had taken such a different path. Or had I? I looked at the controls inside the Gemini capsule and imagined myself there, saw myself piloting the spacecraft. I had been a pilot several years before, and those stories still mattered. I was a different kind of traveler now, a seeker of culture and adventure, but the seeds of my dreams still had a role to play in my current work.
I started thinking about my role as a speaker and trainer; I was not only there to work through challenges with participants, but also to inspire through my own stories. If I could bring a spark of interest in Indian business culture, for example, through my experiences there, then I bring the material to life.
As I walked among Neil Armstrong’s story, I started to see infinite possibilities of how the Highroad and my dream of the stars could begin to intersect. I will be sharing more about this intersection with you in the coming months, but I can tell you that it will be a grand journey. Many of the details have already been set in motion.
Soon the Highroad will take two paths rather than one, and I will be bringing my own Neil Armstrong story to a town near you. I cannot wait to share more, so stay tuned to hear how you and your organization can participate in the dream and reap the rewards.
In the meantime, I invite you to think about where your dreams intersect. Where do the roads of your life meet up, and what do you learn? Are there roads you thought you would never tread again that might need a second look? I look forward to hearing your stories and to the dialogue therein. See you on the Highroad…