I was waiting in line for a ride at the airport in Dubai. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me.
He handed me a laminated card
and said: ‘I’m Abdul, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d
like you to read my mission statement.’
Taken aback, I read the card.
It said: Abdul’s Mission Statement: “To get my customers to their destination
in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.”
This blew me away. Especially
when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly
As he slid behind the wheel,
Abdul said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and
one of decaf.’
I said jokingly, ‘No, I’d
prefer a soft drink.’
Abdul smiled and said, ‘No
problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water and
Almost stuttering, I said,
‘I’ll take a Lassi.’
Handing me my drink, Abdul
said, ‘If you’d like something to read, I have The NST , Star and Sun Today.’
As they were pulling away,
Abdul handed me another laminated card, ‘These are the stations I get and the
music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’
And as if that weren’t enough,
Abdul told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature
was comfortable for me.
Then he advised me of the best
route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be
happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or, if I preferred, to leave
me with my own thoughts.
‘Tell me, Abdul ,’ I was
amazed and asked him, ‘have you always served customers like this?’
Abdul smiled into the rear
view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two
years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like
all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about POWER OF CHOICE one
Power of choice is that you
can be a duck or an eagle.
‘If you get up in the morning
expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop
‘Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle.
Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
‘That hit me. really hard’
‘It is about me. I was always
quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an
eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were
dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I
decided to make some changes, slowly … a few at a time. When my customers
responded well, I did more.’
‘I take it that it has paid
off for you,’ I said.
‘It sure has,’ Abdul replied.
‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This
year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my
cell phone or leave a message on it.’
Abdul made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and start soaring like an eagle.
Because, if we choose to call “an issue” a challenge rather than “crisis”; Because, we can look at hardship as an opportunity rather than an obstacle; Because, we can ask, “what did I learn that makes me better?”; Because, we can take a breath and do the difficult things; Because, our courage does not depend on the weather, the economic forecast or a whim; Because, we choose to know the most significant elements of life are laughter, learning, and giving our finest effort to each endeavor; Because of these things, each morning is a pleasure and every day a success.
About a decade ago on
his 37th birthday, after spending his entire adult life loosely dating
different women, he finally decided he was ready to settle down. He
wanted to find a real mate… a lover… a life partner—someone who could show him
what it meant to be in a deep, monogamous, trusting relationship.
So, he searched far
and wide. There were so many women to choose from, all with great
qualities, but none with everything he was looking for. And then,
finally, just when he thought he would never find her, he found her. And
she was perfect. She had everything he ever wanted in a woman. And
he rejoiced, for he knew how rare a find she was. “I’ve done my
research,” he told her. “You are the one for me.”
But as the days and
weeks turned into months and years, he started to realize that she was far from
perfect. She had issues with trust and self-confidence, she liked to be
silly when he wanted to be serious, and she was much messier than he was.
And he started to have doubts … doubts about her, doubts about himself, doubts
And to validate these
doubts, he subconsciously tested her. He constantly looked around their
apartment for things that weren’t clean just to prove that she was messy.
He decided to go out alone to parties with his single guy friends just to prove
that she had trust issues. He set her up and waited for her to do something
silly just to prove she couldn’t be serious. It went on like this for
As the tests
continued—and as she, clearly shaken and confused, failed more and more
often—he became more and more convinced that she was not a perfect fit for him
after all. Because he had dated women in the past who were more mature,
more confident, and more willing to have serious conversations.
Inevitably, he found
himself at a crossroads. Should he continue to be in a relationship with
a woman who he once thought was perfect, but now realizes is lacking the
qualities that he already found in the other women that came before her?
Or should he return to the lifestyle he had come from, drifting from one empty
relationship to the next?
After he enrolled in
our Getting Back to Happy Course a few days ago, desperately looking for
answers, this is the gist of what Angel and I told him:
One of the greatest
lessons we learn in life is that we are often attracted to a bright light in
another person. Initially, this light is all we see. It’s so bright
and beautiful. But after a while, as our eyes adjust, we notice this
light is accompanied by a shadow… and oftentimes a fairly large one.
When we see this
shadow, we have two choices: we can either shine our own light on the shadow or
we can run from it and continue searching for a shadow-less light.
If we decide to run
from the shadow, we must also run from the light that created it. And we
soon find out that our light is the only light illuminating the space around
us. Then, at some point, as we look closer at our own light, we notice
something out of the ordinary. Our light is casting a shadow too.
And our shadow is bigger and darker than some of the other shadows we’ve seen.
If, on the other hand,
instead of running from the shadow, we decide to walk towards it, something
amazing happens. We inadvertently cast our own light on the shadow, and
likewise, the light that created this shadow casts its light on ours.
Gradually, both shadows begin to disappear. Not completely, of course,
but every part of the two shadows that are touched by the other person’s light
illuminate and disappear.
And, as a result, we
each find more of that bright beautiful light in the other person.
Which is precisely what we have been searching for all along.