7 Life and Faith lessons from an unexpected place: Grand Central Terminal, NY

Grand Central TerminalRecently, I was meeting someone for a coaching session and Grand Central Terminal in New York was the agreed meeting point. I got there a bit earlier and just stood in the main concourse…lost in the flurry of activity and movement for a few minutes. I realized that I was lost in the grandness of Grand Central (No pun intended) and some interesting lessons surfaced.You see, Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world in terms of platforms. According to Travel + Leisure magazine, Grand Central is regarded as the “Worlds loveliest station” and “it is the world’s number 6 most visited tourist attraction”.

As I stood there to take it all in, I started to wonder what life and faith parallels or lessons can be gleaned from being in that moment within the walls of Grand Central. Surprisingly…or perhaps not surprisingly, there were indeed a few life and faith lessons from this unexpected place.

1.There is always a next train: In life, we are often so panicked about making the designated train of our life that will take us to our desired destination.  That train could be graduation, getting married, getting a promotion, scoring high enough to get into the school you want.  We panic and tell ourselves (as society drills it home) that if we miss this train, we are done for…but that’s not true. It is important to aggressively chase our goals but just like at Grand Central Terminal, there is always a next train in life.

We may get to our destination a bit later than we wanted, we may disappoint a few people who were “expecting” us to have “arrived…achieved….accomplished” by a certain time, but the more important thing is that we arrived. There is a next train. Try again and keep trying to make the next train.

2.There are many ways to get to the same place. So get on another track: Grand Central Terminal is the terminal with the largest number of tracks in the world. Sometimes, a track has a problem, is frozen over in winter, needs maintenance work or is just unavailable for one reason or the other. Guess what. People don’t camp out at GC, people don’t stop moving…NO. Another track is opened, trains are rerouted, and people still get to their destination.

Such is life. You may have a track in mind when you begin, but be flexible to change tracks when that track isn’t working. You must be flexible in life to be able to change some of the methods/paths/friends/careers/environment that you started with, so that you can get to your final destination.

3.The environment around you can put subtle unspoken pressure on you: As I stood there, right in the main concourse, I realized that I suddenly began to feel pressure to be in a hurry. I felt out of place not rushing somewhere. Why don’t I have a time crunch? Shouldn’t I be on my way somewhere?  I had arrived earlier than my appointment so I HAD time…but I still felt pressure to be in a hurry because everyone around me was in a hurry. That’s how life is and that’s why you must be careful about your environment (not just physically but especially the people you are around).

Surround yourself with people who are self-obsessed and always worried about having the perfect makeup done, and you’ll feel pressure about being beautiful. Surround yourself with people who are vain and measure themselves by the cars, clothes, money and stuff they have, and you’ll feel pressure in that area. You must be very careful about the environment you put yourself in. Ask yourself: Is the pressure I feel from this place a healthy type of pressure or is it an unhealthy type of pressure?

4.The greatness of a place is not just a factor of how monumental the structure itself is…the greatness of a place (and a person) is also (maybe even more so) a factor of how that place/person is connected to other places/ people and how it helps others. Grand Central is great not just because it is one of the most beautiful Terminals there are but because it is one of the most connected train stations there are.  Grand Central is rarely a final destination for the millions of travelers that pass through every year…but it helps millions of people connect to their intended destinations.

Grand Central is great because it helps people get to where they want to go. Are you helping people get to where they want to get in life? Are you adding real value to people? Or are you only bothered with people who you can be a final destination for?

5.People don’t stand still for long: The occasional selfie….the occasional ceiling picture but that’s it…people keep moving…pushing through to their final destination. You need to do the same. You need to keep it moving. Some people want to live in the Grand Central Terminal of their lives…the comfortable places…the places they feel popular, the situations where they look great. The perfect Instagram post, the perfect Facebook selfie, the perfect swag elements. On the way to their dreams, people get to a point of some success and just forget the final destination.

People want to live in the little SUCCESS they achieve on the way to SIGNIFICANCE. They think “I have arrived” when they should be thinking “Great. Glad I got here. Let’s take it in, let’s get a picture. Click. Ok what’s next!”. They get so caught up on this great transit point of their journey, that they forget their FINAL destination. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger. Went from successful Body Builder, to successful Actor, to successfully becoming Governor in a foreign country.

6.The true value of Grand Central is below the surface: The upper (Main Concourse) level is really beautiful, but that doesn’t even begin to start process of explaining the first page of the book that attempts to describe the beginning of the start of the article that scratches the surface of why Grand Central is grand (Phew! Mouthful there!). No… the true VALUE of Grand Central is below the surface. Many people are caught up on the surface…investing in keeping up an appearance on the surface but lacking true infrastructure where it really counts…below the surface. What is below your surface? If we peel of the outer layer, what will we find? And will we be happy we found it?

7.If you see Grand Central as only a well-built building, that’s all it will be to you. The same thing applies to God. If you see him as just “one thing” or as a “foreign” being, that’s all you’ll allow him to be. But if you expand your mind beyond how “possible it is” for a God to exist, and open yourself to  investigate the  infinite possibility of God, if you simply give him permission to affect you right where you are…as you are… you’ll end up lost in his grandeur. You’ll end up enveloped in a new feeling about yourself and the world around you that elevates your spirit and puts a pep in your step.

 See you in transit.

If you enjoyed this post, you will love the other article in the series: Life and Faith lessons from an unexpected place: Super Bowl XLVIII 2014