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3 Life Lessons From My Uber Driver (& One of The Smartest Human Beings I've Ever Met)

I'm currently sitting at the Atlanta airport getting ready to board my plane to Toronto. In the last 10 days, I've had some pretty incredible shifts that are starting to occur around the work that I do and the people that I want to help at a deeper and more meaningful level. This of course, is a major byproduct of experiencing a full day of exponential personal and business growth with my own coach in Boston - which somehow resulted in finding myself wandering around a forest in the middle of the night just outside of the city - but that's a blog post for another day.

Following my short trip to Boston, I jumped on a flight the next morning to Atlanta to attend two other seminars with my coach and a group of other incredible people from around the country.

And while I'm traveling, one of my favourite things to do is take a day or two to explore the city. In Atlanta specifically, one of my favourite things to do is to get up early and spend the day at the Ponce City Market (for those of you know who me well, know that I LOVE a good market) and this one is lined with quaint little stores, restaurants, coffee shops and vendors that sell a lot of locally made food, clothing and products.

So prior to my seminar, I moseyed about Ponce, checked out cute stores, ate amazing food and eventually picked up a delicious mango and kale smoothie to-go before grabbing an Uber to my destination. And since making a drastic amount of changes to my life in the past couple of years, I am constantly amazed by the incredible and inspiring people that continue to cross my path.

This particular experience introduced me to a man named, Terrance.

Terrance pulled up in a Mercedes.  I was curious why someone driving a Mercedes was an Uber driver. Not in a judgemental way, but I was curious to learn about his story.

Immediately when I got in, he welcomed me with a boisterous grin accompanied by a very energetic and enthusiastic "Welcome Sarah - it's so great to meet you today!" Terrance wore a plaid shirt, jeans and glasses rimmed his dark, trusting and honest eyes. He had dark, soot-coloured curls and a smile as bright as the sun. He continued, "You caught me at a good time, I was just stopping off for some delicious black been chilli - mmmm, damn that smells delicious, doesn't it!? After I picked it up, I thought I'd check into Uber and see who I'd meet today!" 

I obviously liked him and his energy immediately.

We spent the next thirty minutes talking about his favourite books, philosophy, his kids, his approach to being a leader (he's a manager at his job and greets everyone enthusiastically on their arrival to the office with hugs and high-fives). Every once in a while, he asks for a transfer to a new city just to travel the world and see new sites and meet new people. He told me stopped chasing money long ago,  but does Uber on his days off while he's running errands just so he can meet and connect with others. He was incredibly passionate about meeting new people, sharing his story and hearing theirs.

Everyone knows at least one person in their life with that special and unique kind of energy - energy that draws you in and yet, you can't quite explain it what it is, just that you want to be around them. I'm fortunate to have a lot of those people in my life, but Terrance was quickly added to the list. I told him that he was a special kind of breed and the world would be a better place if it had more people who shared a similar outlook and love for life, like he did.

Terrance let out a full-bellied laugh before replying, "Well it's no special secret, ma'm". He continued, " I have a few rules I like to live by, and if everyone lived by those rules they'd probably love life as much as I do."

I was curious to hear more about the principles with which he led his life. So I feverishly took notes on the information he shared, knowing I'd want to share his wisdom with you. 

"First one is to remove the things in life that bring you stress, and do the things that make you happy", he began. "I used to have terrible back pain. All the time. I went to a chiropractor regularly and took care of my body - I couldn't figure out where the pain was coming from and why it wasn't getting better. Until the day after my wife at the time and I split up. I had the best sleep of my life and my back pain went away immediately. It was miraculous. I was able to start doing the things that actually make me happy in life. Wednesday nights are blues nights. Thursday nights are for whiskey and cigars. Heck - I couldn't be happier! Remove the things that cause you stress in life instead of spending your days trying to control a situation that's out of your control. And remove the people in your life if they don't add to it or align with the life you want. You can't change people or fix them, all you can do is change yourself. 

I agreed immensely. I had been guilty of this in the past: trying to change or "fix" relationships before taking responsibility for my own part, holding myself accountable to being the best version of myself every day instead of blaming or pointing out the mistakes in others. What's more, I too had started giving myself permission to remove someone from my life if the relationships just caused me stress. I asked Terrance to continue. 

"The second rule is I don't chase money, I chase what I love. Sure I have a nice car and home - but they don't actually matter. Nice things used to be important to me. But now I travel, I take time off to spend with family and friends, I am constantly connecting with my children. I've heard stories about people that save money for their whole lives telling themselves they'll travel when they retire - but if there's one thing I know for certain Sarah, there's no promise of tomorrow, so don't put off the things you want to do in life, until tomorrow."

Our conversation continued for a while on this particular topic as it's certainly one I am passionate about given the work that I do. We then continued to his last (and what Terrance informed me) was the most important rule he lives by. 

"My last rule is just be the kindest human being you can be. Treat everyone with love and kindness. Smile to everyone, ask everyone you meet how they're doing or how their day is going. I welcome everyone I see at work with high-fives or hugs. They love working with me and ask, "whatever you got, I want some of that". But what I have is simple (and free for everyone): it's kindness.

I get to know them, I ask their story. You'd be surprised how many people don't get that kind of love or support at home. You have no idea who's life you could be impacting and at what level. That's not just at work, that's everyone I meet on a daily basis. I met the most interesting man who was serving me my black bean chilli today. I learned all about his hobbies, his children and what lights him up in life. You see Sarah, I don't meet strangers, I only meet friends. And I treat everyone as one I've had for years. If they don't reciprocate, that's their own internal struggles and has nothing to do with me. You see, everyone's worrying about politics and who's in office and complaining about something they can't change. The only thing each and every single one of us can control at this point is to continue to be the best person we can be on a daily basis, treat others with that kindness as well, and raise our kids with those same principles. That's all you can control."

At this point we were nearing my destination. I thanked him immensely for his stories and wisdom, told him to have a wonderful whiskey and cigar night, and jumped out of the vehicle, completely lost in thought. His words were a great reminder as I sat down to plan out my upcoming week. So if you too, are looking for some new things to focus on, Terrance's advice is simple: Remove things that bring you stress and do the things that make you happy, stop chasing money - instead chase love, and be the kindest human being you can be. I'm certain you can't go wrong.