My First Million… Miles

Somewhere over the Atlantic today I clocked my millionth flight mile with United Airlines. No, the Captain didn’t come back to greet me. And there weren’t balloons at the gate waiting for me. Once they process this flight, I’ll receive Star Alliance Gold status for life. But the real reward for all this travel are the rich experiences with which I’ve been blessed.

Reflecting back on the past few years of travel, earning Gold status is only a minor reward compared to the wonderful people I’ve met on these trips. I’m constantly inspired by and learn from those I go to teach.

Without naming names, here are a few stories of people I’ve met:

  • In Russia, a church operates a rapidly expanding group of drug rehabilitation centers. They use a medical and spiritual approach to addiction and see 30-40% recovery rates compared to the government’s 1% rate.
  • A woman in London won an European Union award and grant for her work combating human trafficking through a grassroots PR campaign printed on beer coasters and placed in local pubs.
  • I was caught in a massive demonstration in Jakarta that tossed the long-time President out of power. And a few years later I missed a flight because of demonstrations protesting the mess the new government had become.
  • In India, I taught a group of rural Indian pastors coaching skills. One guy in the audience caught my eye because of the huge smile constantly on his face. Joy radiated from this man – a spiritual thing I’ve rarely seen. As I talked to him over dinner, he told me he had just been released from a month in the hospital after being beaten by police in a neighboring village for leading a bible study group.
  • In Asia, a couple of American guys in their 20s started a tourism business in order to provide work and income for the impoverish people of that area. Year after year, they navigate corrupt government and raise their families in poor conditions because of their love for the local people.
  • My colleagues and I travel together and share deeply, as only long travel and jet-lag promotes.
  • Outside Barcelona, Spain, the 1,000 year-old monastery at Montserrat hosted 3 of my training events. I love the short prayer services sprinkled throughout their day that helps them continually connect with God.

The lives of these people have served as models and inspiration for me. I’m amazed at their creativity, service, and sacrifice. Their stories have changed me. And that’s much better than Gold status.

Question: How have you been changed as you have traveled? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    2 thoughts on “My First Million… Miles

      • Colter, I’ve experienced a lot of change at home due to these and other experiences. From my experience at the monastery, spiritual rhythms became more important. Because I’m away from my family, when I get home I work at being in deeper relationship with them. In my work, I’m inspired by the creativity, service, and “go-for-it-ness” I’ve seen. For example, we just reworked our whole coaching training system in order to achieve a much greater impact. Without the examples of others, I may have been satisfied to continue at our previously “successful” pace.

        For me, getting out of my daily routine stimulates a lot of jumps in personal growth. I don’t have to travel around the world for this to happen. Writing from a local Starbucks, taking a “hike” through the city, or visiting an organization and taking the tour stimulates reflection in me.