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Fly With Waldo

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Hope, Courage and Inspiration from a Stranger

This week was special for me. It was filled with hope.

Recently, I was engaged by a client (Superior Foods) to deliver a sales workshop and leadership keynote on Mackinaw Island, MI.  I arrived ready to do business and earn my fee, but left inspired for free and more alive.

I met a stranger who became a friend. Andy DeVries was his name. A very seasoned sales manager in his 60’s, we connected after my program and for some reason I felt compelled to get to know him.

In the time we spent together, Andy shared his story of overcoming a near death experience, and multiple medical challenges (including a liver transplant and a terrible motorcycle accident) that brought him to the brink of death. As a result of these challenges, Andy learned the value of family, friendship and the love of God – and how to encourage and serve people in his life.

Andy was so transparent, honest, and sincere.  I could have talked to him for hours.

He taught me so much. But what he taught me most was the power of hope.  Throughout his ordeals, he had people – mostly strangers – inspire him to keep fighting when he thought all was lost. From his nurse, physical therapist, pastor, and his family and friends…they gave him something greater than himself that pushed him to fight through his trials and tribulations – to eventually walk again and even play volleyball on the Senior Olympic team!

Now, all Andy wants to do is serve others.  It’s the focus of his life and the meaning of his mission. Nothing else matters.  And I truly believe him.

What a gift!

Andy DeVries and Waldo Waldman

Every day we have a chance to inspire and to be inspired – to find greater meaning in the grind of our daily lives.  To find the courage and hope to press on and break through our fears and doubts that may be holding us back from taking our life to the next level. Even when we’re in the dungeon of despair.

Sometimes that inspiration can come from a loved one or friend.  But at other times, it can come from a stranger.

There are Andy’s all over the world and we bump into them every day.  They are often the unassuming ones. The ones at checkout counters, our workplace, on the other end of the phone line, and in the audiences of our lives.

Seek them out.  Ask them questions. Be interested in them.  Take your mask off. And let others feel safe to take off theirs. Give them hope.

You never know the gift you can receive after a deep, authentic conversation with a stranger.

What’s more, that stranger can also turn into a friend.

Be an Andy.

Check out Andy’s inspirational book Common Thread on Amazon