LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
Manhattan is the smallest of the five boroughs comprising New York City, NY. It is only 23 square miles in size and the most densely populated. As of 2017, an average of 72,000 people lived in each square mile! Confession: I really love NYC. So much so, I walked twenty miles in pouring rain and rode an elevator to the 102nd floor of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, just to enjoy the sights and sounds. To cap off that Big Apple experience, I chose to take the subway, which travels underground and dips as low as 180 feet below the surface.
In addition to New York City subway lore, including stories of secret tracks and abandoned stations, I saw a city employee singing with joy bringing smiles to his passengers. I also saw a very energetic poet, eager to trade his improvisation for money. Being largely ignored, he departed as quickly as he boarded in search of a more receptive audience. As my subway car swayed rhythmically over the tracks, I formulated a few recommendations from my other observations:
- Join the Flow: When I reached the entrance down to the subway platform, commuters were pouring out like ants fleeing an ant hill. At first, I waited for my turn to squeeze into the narrow staircase. Then I laughed at myself, picked up my suitcase and plowed right into the opposing crowd. Immediately, everyone consolidated on the opposite side allowing plenty of room to navigate! I took my place in the natural ebb and flow. No fewer than 100 people exited behind me by the time I reached the bottom step. Had I not boldly positioned myself, I might have missed my train.
- Take Your Seat: On any given weekday, 6 million people commute using the New York subway system. People in the habit of commuting are accustomed to tight spaces– even cars can be sacked four high in mechanical parking structures. Similarly, I saw a bench in my subway car at full capacity leaving no room for another. Yet, a woman boarded and politely asked for a seat. Suddenly, twenty-four inches opened up and she sat down! If you are waiting for an obvious invitation, you may be left standing.
- Care for Strangers: One frazzled traveler, desperate to share his harrowing experience, began recounting his appreciation for the “kindness of strangers.” Nearing the end of my uptown trek, I recounted the kindness I had received: an offer to carry my suitcase up a two flight of stairs, a silent gesture toward my wayward ticket on the floor, and suggestions for passing time between transfers. We all had different destinations, yet we shared– if only for a few minutes– a common journey. It’s actually easier and more fulfilling to be kind to others along the way.
Riding the subway was relatively relaxing compared to the g-force I felt on the bus darting from Queens to LaGuardia Airport! I, along with a few other travelers, strained to minimize the number of toes damaged by our squirming 4-wheeled suitcases. As I balanced precariously at each wild turn, I thought about, one: why suitcases don’t have brakes; and two: how I was sharing a small part of a journey with people bound for different destinations. We were all part of the flow, taking our rightful place, and being kind to strangers. Oh, I love New York!
* FUN FACTS: In 1938, the island of Manhattan was severed from the mainland by the Harlem River Ship Canal, built to unite the Hudson and Harlem rivers. Today, over 2000 bridges and tunnels connect the island!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.