Last weekend, I had to pick up my daughter at the RDU airport. While I was waiting for her plane to land (and watching the landing time change on the flight tracker app), I happened to look up toward the ceiling of the terminal. Scattered around the ceiling, here and there, were helium balloons of various colors, sizes, and shapes.
My first thought… what a waste! Someone had spent money on a helium balloon to give to a loved one when she/he returns from a trip, only to release the balloon (unintentionally, I hoped) and have it float up toward the ceiling, lost in the heights of the terminal until it deflated and fell back to the floor to be thrown into the trash with other garbage.
Nice thoughts… no, I’m not much of a romantic.
But, the image of those balloons stuck with me for several days. I thought about them over and over, and I realized that each balloon told a story. Each balloon told a story about love. And that story is something that can help us (me) as I consider leadership and respect.
Each balloon tells the story of a person deciding to spend money (hard earned money… I must be getting older to think of phrases like that) to show someone else how much she/he means to the balloon purchaser. No, the person returning from the trip does not run through the terminal anxiously awaiting that balloon. The person is excited about seeing her/his loved one.
But, the balloon makes it extra special. It shows love. It shows forethought. It shows value.
Often, whether we think on a personal or organizational level, our desire is to demonstrate love, service, respect, etc. to our loved ones, business partners, employees, or customers. The “balloons” of life, while not needed, are ways to add that extra touch, to demonstrate more, to open doors.
No, the balloon is not the goal; but the balloon can provide opportunities to reach the goal… whatever that goal might be.
So, while my first thought was that the balloons were a waste of time, effort, and money, I now realize that the balloon was a very special touch to make a meeting (reunion) even more special and to open the door for a deeper and closer relationship… even though the balloon itself was lost in the reunion.