What happens when you turn the audio on?

Being myself is more than enough!

aircraft cabinA few days ago, I was flying on United Airlines. The flight was pretty normal as far as the basic circumstances of flying. We boarded early and I watched as passengers filled the plane. As the boarding process was underway, I noticed a man sitting across the aisle from me talking rather loudly with a female passenger siting next to him.

I was reading something so while I was aware of the conversation near me, I didn’t pay attention to the details. The plane door was closed and we taxied for takeoff. Just as we got to the runway, the aircraft stopped and the pilot’s voice came over the public address system. “We have been informed by the FAA, that lightening has struck one of the radar systems at Chicago O’Hare (our destination) and at the moment there is a ground stop in Chicago. We are going to be on the ground here at least an hour.”

man on cell phoneAfter this announcement the pilot allowed the passengers to use their cell phones if they wanted. This man that I had previously noticed started engaging in a very loud cell phone conversation. He was talking about the person sitting next to him on the plane. He said,”You would not believe it. I am sitting next to a Vice President of IBM (not the name of the company he mentioned but it is of the same name recognition)” He went on to talk in detail to this person about the content of his conversation with the person sitting next to him. I was clear that he didn’t realize that the whole cabin was aware of his conversation, including the person about whom he was speaking.

She leaned over to the person sitting next to me and voiced her discomfort in being so publicly exposed. I could feel her angst. I noticed that I was also feeling uncomfortable. I was wondering why was I feeling this way since the person was clearly not not talking about me.

As I sat with my discomfort, I found that while the guy was being so public with his conversation about how important he felt because he as talking to a Vice President of IBM, I had felt similar feelings to his. Now I never was so public in my discussions. Yet, I did brag as he was about my “accomplishment”. I did this while treating the other person as an object. Because this passenger had turned “on the audio” of his mind in such a public way, I was able to see myself.

seeing myselfAs I further explored my discomfort, I was able to see that I have, on occasion, felt that I was important merely because of the people with whom I associated. This feeling exposed areas where I was feeling insufficient or insignificant. I had the belief that I could fill these holes through my associations with “important” people.

I know that this is never true. First I never really have anything lacking in myself. Any belief to the contrary is an illusion. I also realize that my associations with other simply because of what they can do for me are hollow at best and are a very overt way to use other people only for my purposes.

This is a good alert for me. While I can see that this behavior is reduced in my life, my discomfort showed me that it still lingers. I will be watchful is this creeps into my life so that I can stop it before it can reach full bloom.

What an interesting day on the plane!

Until later,


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Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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