Living and Giving

Lessons for Syria from A Leader\’s Battle with An Escalator

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Sometimes \”You Just Have to Take the Step.\”

I just returned from a most fascinating trip in global philanthropy.  I travelled from the UK to Zurich in Switzerland for a discussion on Syria.  Global leaders and funders discussed refugee acceptance, capacity within countries, capacity to change one\’s country policy, funding, and… fears.    It was strategic and sincere.   It was two steps back, two steps forward.  There was inspiration — and overwhelm.  


It reminded me of my fear of escalators.   Yes, escalators.   


During this European trip, there was a lot of travel in a short amount of period. I was moving every night or two nights in order to get to all the meetings. That meant a lot of hustling with planes, Lyft, Uber, trains, taxis, shuttles, walking and running! 🙂 Often times it would be a very close call at the airport.  I was traveling alone, hauling bags, scanning foreign language departures, making a connection, and running,  I would face a certain dread: The Escalator.


Yes, \”The Escalator\”. For some reason when I\’m carrying bags, I\’m tentative to step on The Escalator.   It seems I\’m afraid that I might lose my balance, or my bag might tip me over. Perhaps I won\’t get my bag on the step and I\’ll fall.


So my heart starts to race.  I try to grab the banister but I don\’t have hands to do so, so I\’m very shaky.  It\’s with a temporary, very temporary, sigh of relief that I get on it.  


The more you wait the worse it gets.   You start to overthink.  \’Try to time it. Watch the flow of moving steps… maybe here… maybe now… No, I missed it…\”  Your mind overthinks, paralyzing you.


But this trip it wasn\’t possible.


I had to run to get many airline transfers and there was no time to waste. I literally had to jump on that Escalator.    I schooled my mind: There was nothing inherently wrong with The Escalator. It wasn\’t trying to hurt me or trip me. I claimed I was in perfect step with The Escalator\’s steps.  I faced it courageously and just took a step.


This small event gave me a greater sense of confidence. That thought kept coming so strongly: \”You just have to take the step.\”   


Is this important?


You bet it is. Anytime we face fear of any sort there is a time to overcome it. Fear, especially of inanimate objects, can demonstrate power over you and lead to weakness in other areas. Why should you be ruled by it?


Don\’t dismiss this important lesson.  This isn\’t really about an escalator.  This is about what you are allowing to control your thoughts and your experience.   You deserve to have freedom in your life.



Could this also apply to Syria?  

We can overthink, think, plan, logisticize all we want on Syria.  Many countries don\’t have time to plan for any refugees. Refugees are streaming over the borders as we speak. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey have to jump on the escalator, fear or no fear, plan or no plan.   And they– we– must unite together to address the situation in a smart, caring, loving, open way.   


\”You just have to take the step.\”


Now I look forward to The Escalator –  my friend. He\’s going to transport me more quickly and in a kind way.  Maybe we can view the same with the refugee crisis.   As tough as it is, taking one step to accept a refugee can bring us to a kinder, gentler, more united world.  A world less based on fear and more on harmony.


Is there something holding you back today? How might you overcome it?


I\’m so grateful to travel free: Both in the sure step of my foot and in peacefulness in my heart.  I encourage us all to do the same with the refugee crisis.   Or find a fear in your life, conquer it, and be free.