Lewis: “Betsy, I’d like to spend some time with you before you depart tomorrowbut my schedule is very tight. Would you care to join me for my morning walk so we can have a chat?”
“I’d love to. What time should I meet you?”
Lewis: “How about 5am?”
“Sounds great!” I said, trying to mask the realization that 5am in Houston would feel like 3am in California.
Lewis: “Brilliant. See you then.”
And that’s how I found myself taking a walk at 3am PST in someone else’s shoes.
(I’d only packed sandals for the two day trip and had to borrow Nike’s that were 1.5 sizes too big from a fellow I’d met the day before.)
As I left my room it occurred to my sleep-addled brain that walking the dark streets of downtown Houston with a lovely 67 year-old man may not be the safest decision I’ve ever made. I quickly grabbed my phone in case of emergency, and headed to the lobby.
Upon meeting Lewis I was introduced to a safety measure far greater than my phone. Caleb was a 6’4, 270lb former offensive lineman with the presence of a tattooed giant and the warmth of southern hospitality. My hand disappeared in his as he shook it, and with that our mismatched cadre took to the streets.
I’d come to Houston to meet Lewis M. Senior, the co-CEO of Equilibria, and learn more about what they did as the “personality diversity experts”. Having heard Lewis speak a few times I was conscious of the fact that this walk could very well be a “Tuesdays With Morrie” type experience. Although “Walkies with Louie” made for a questionable book title, I imagined the pearls of wisdom might be similar.
2 hours, 8 miles, and 1 Starbucks later, I was certain of it.
Much like the path we took along the bayou, our conversation twisted and turned through the topics of personality, innovation, diversity, inclusion, vulnerability, communication, confrontation, connection, possibility and human potential.
I was impressed by what was included in our conversation, and even more impressed by what was not; there were differences of opinion, but there was no judgment. There was an eagerness to share, but there were no interruptions. There was a genuine desire to understand which left no one feeling misunderstood.
Not to go all Nicholas Sparks on you, but it was absolutely A Walk to Remember.
It will take a while to digest all that happened on that walk, but the moral of my story is this...
The greatest gift we can offer another person, is our time.
When someone offers to gift you their time, show up for them - even if you feel unprepared. (Josh, thank you for the shoes!)
And finally, if you’re fortunate enough to know people who make you feel safe - whether to share your thoughts or venture into the unknown - take every opportunity to invite them to walk beside you.
[Photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/BOONCHAI WEDMAKAWAND]