So much of life, especially the life of a business owner and leader, involves juggling the yesses and the nos and maybe-laters. Moving from one decision to the next. Doing the best you can, as much of the time as you can.
A recent encounter reminded me that friendships can show up in some of the most unexpected places if we’re willing to lean a little bit more toward those yes decisions and a little bit more towards connection.
After leaving a recent event at Kananaskis Lodge (which I wrote about–and about the importance of treating one another well–here), I headed to another beautiful mountain lodge with my colleagues: the Fairmont Springs Hotel in Banff. I knew I’d be working most of the time there, but I was determined to squeeze in some time to take in the scenery.
So I did. One day, I took an afternoon to explore the beautiful old mountain lodge town. It was charming and incredible, and you definitely need more than four hours to explore it. I thought I’d see as much as possible during my time by taking a gondola ride up the mountain. (What this means is this: essentially, they put you in a little container with seats for three other people that, using a system of wires, take you to the top of the mountain, about 7K feet above sea level.)
I was excited to work with the concierge to arrange the details–where I was going, how to get there, what to do about tickets, and so on. As we chatted, I mentioned that I liked traveling alone but always find myself wanting to connect with people in the moment, especially when it comes to sharing experiences.
As I waited by the curb for my cab, I heard a woman behind me ask the person at the front door if she could get a taxi to the gondola.
“Why don’t you join me?” I said. “I’m headed there now!”
“That would be lovely!” she said, and we both climbed in. On the way, we made awkward small talk at first (as one does), but eventually I learned a lot about her. Her name was Hanyu, and she was attending a healthcare conference. It was also her first time in Banff. And she, too, was excited for the gondola.
By the time we got out of the cab, we’d already decided to explore the mountain with one another. We rode the gondola and hiked, soaking up the incredible views. We took breaks periodically–mostly because I am out of shape–and talked some more, taking in the experience together. At one point, we both got a hot drink and sat by the fire out by the peak. It was beautiful: two people who hours before were strangers sharing a view and creating a sweet story together.
And yes, as you may have guessed, we have stayed connected as friends.
I had two adventures that day: floating and hiking up a mountain in Banff, and getting to know Hanyu. I am so glad I said yes to both of them.
This moment of fate was extra meaningful to me because, since the pandemic, I’ve found my normally-extroverted self becoming more of an ambivert. That’s okay. I’m still evolving, as we all are. But what I know for sure is that what happened on that day, on that mountain, felt like a gift.
When was the last time you experienced human connection as a result of a “yes?” Mountain or no mountain, I’d love to hear about it.
Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.