A couple of days ago, while on an airplane, I had a chance to see first-class up close and personal.
I was sitting in coach.
Within minutes of boarding the plane, a gentleman I had passed in first class came walking back toward my seat. He passed me and stopped four or five rows back beside a sharp looking young man who is in the Navy. The man from first-class looked at the soldier and said, “Excuse me young man, I believe you are sitting in my seat.” The soldier replied, “No sir, here’s my boarding pass.”
As the man in the Navy held up his pass the distinguished gentlemen reached and took it and said, “No son, you are in seat 1A,” handing him his first-class boarding pass.”
The stunned soldier said, “No sir, that is your seat.” The older gentleman said, “I insist. Go up there and enjoy yourself, and thank you for all you do.”
The entire scene reminded me of a few important things.
First, you don’t have to be wearing a uniform to understand or demonstrate honor. The executive was willing to sacrifice a small part of himself to make the day better for the soldier. I had a chance to talk to the man after the soldier when up front, thanking him for demonstrating what it means to be a servant. The businessman shared with me that, when he is upgraded to first class, he likes to give his seat to someone in the military. He said, “If I can help a guy gain an extra 10 or 15 minutes with his wife or girlfriend, it makes me feel like I’m doing my part.
Second, first class is not a seat or section on an airplane. First class is a man who would give up what is rightfully his to bless a soldier. First class is a stay home mom who yields her career for a couple of preschoolers who are too small to say thank you. First class is a friend who sits by the bedside of someone in the hospital. First class is a Dad who slows down long enough to read a bedtime story to his little girls.
First class has absolutely nothing to do with how much you can afford to pay for a plane ticket.
As I approach this weekend I am going to be looking for an opportunity to be a first class leader – one who sees another in need and then responds to meet that need anyway I can. I hope you will join me.
It is not hard to be first class, but it sure is difficult. It requires me to think of others before I think about myself.
The world needs more first-class leaders. Let’s all do our part and give up our seat for someone in need.
Leadership Begins at Home,
When is the last time you saw a leader demonstrate “first class” behavior?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.