Blog Post: Baggage Handlers


OK folks, I promise my next post will not be related to my experiences flying the friendly skies. I do get inspired by what I see and hear when traveling, and the time in the seat is perfect for jotting these thoughts down….but…I will make it a point to be inspired by something else next month!

This month, however, I am once again typing away while 30,000 feet up in the sky with some thoughts about how we handle our baggage (or not).

I just posted the following on Facebook:

“Honestly people, if you’re going to insist on carrying four bags onto the airplane, you should, at a minimum, take care not to inflict bodily injury on your fellow passengers!”

As a fairly frequent flyer, I am often among the first passengers on board and typically sit on the aisle somewhere near the front of the airplane. This gives me a unique vantage point from which to observe folks boarding the plane and, as is often the case, I am noticing this morning just how many passengers carry multiple bags (suitcases, backpacks, purses, computer bags…), schlepping them down the aisle toward their row, looking for a place to stow them overhead or underneath the seat. And today is no different in terms of the number of these bags which find my shin, shoulder or the side of my head. My favorite is the huge backpack that extends a foot and a half behind one’s back and swings around like a punching bag every time the wearer sways or turns. It is incredible to me how little regard is given by those lugging their baggage down the aisle to the effect they are having on those seated nearby.

I’m not sure what makes the difference in my response, but at times I find myself sympathetic to the plight of the one carrying all their bags – realizing that their current circumstances require that they haul all of this stuff around with them and they are doing the best they can. Other times I find myself frustrated at the lack of awareness on the part of the “lugger” regarding the impact the stuff they are carrying around with them is having on those around them. In spite of the fact that I cannot identify the factors that determine my response at any given time, it does occur to me that both are real responses to what I am experiencing in the moment, and it is making me curious about my response(s) to my clients’ baggage handling….and to my own.

What is (or should be) a coach’s response to the baggage being carried around by her/his clients? Does that response vary from client to client or session to session? What kind of response is going to most help my client?

It seems to me the answer to my first question is the same answer to the last question. In other words, my response should be the one that is going to most help my client. And I think that response can change, depending on what the client most needs in a given moment or season.

It could be that the best response for my client is one of creating awareness. It may be that she/he is completely unaware that their backpack is sticking out so far behind them that it’s punching others in the head every time the client moves. My offering up an observation about that may be a perfect response to help that client get some new awareness about it. It may be that she/he is oblivious to the fact that they are carrying so much baggage, and a challenging question or direct statement may give them a jolt of awareness about their situation.

Other times, my clients might be better served by a response that is sympathetic. A word of encouragement. An acknowledgement about what they are going through and a recognition that they are doing the best they can. Perhaps a different perspective about all the stuff they’re carrying around can be the perfect response that enables our clients to see a new way forward.

I wonder what other responses might be most helpful for my clients? My different responses to my fellow passengers definitely have me wondering this morning about how I respond to my coaching clients and how I can be more intentional in that area.

Thinking about this also has me wondering about my own baggage. How often am I aware at just how much baggage I am carrying? How aware am I of the impact my baggage is having on others? How can I tell myself that I’m doing the best I can in the moment? How can I get a new perspective on my baggage handling?

I think it may be time to call my coach!

1 thought on “Baggage Handlers”

  1. Hi Bill Copper! Thanks again for sharing another encouraging blog from 30,000 feet up in the sky. Lot’s here for us to reflect on. You have my permission to continue writing more from the skies, lol.

    Thank CAM!

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