What I Learned From A Crying Baby On A Plane



Since moving to Los Angeles I’ve been flying. A lot. And, wit’s Southwest’s open seating I literally am scanning the plane for as I board. Why? I’m looking for potential crying babies. Because as someone who makes an effort to be very intentional with my time (i.e. Working, writing or reading on a flight) this always has been a challenge of mine. They are cute, but so distracting.

If someone could invent headphones that blocked out voices I’d invest in that company in a second (No, noise cancelling headphones don’t work).

Through meditation I’ve created so much more awareness in my life. Specifically, how I react to certain annoyances (like crying babies). In the past, each time I’d hear a baby cry, I’d stop what I was doing, say to myself “Oh my god. This is ridiculous. I’m never going to get anything done” and try to refocus. This, of course, didn’t do anything to stop the baby crying. Then when I started meditating I’d try to use it as reminder to get back to my breath and refocus. I thought, “I can’t control the distractions that are coming up, but I can control how I respond”. This also, of course, did not do anything to stop the baby from crying.

But, over the past 5 months I’ve been working a ton on self-compassion and acceptance through meditation and self-talk. If you don’t think you need to practice this ask yourself if you’d ever talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? And, through this practice I’ve also seen how it can shift your energy from frustration, anger and anxiety to one of calm.

So on my last flight when I heard the baby crying and I decided to practice some compassion and get some understanding.

I realized a couple things:

  1. The baby isn’t intentionally crying. They don’t want to.
  2. They’re crying because they’re hungry or scared. It’s a survival response.

And then I tried to literally feel what they probably were feeling in that moment. Almost immediately any frustration or anxiety about not being able to work dropped. I knew that the parents were doing everything they probably could to take care of their child and was able to let the situation go. For the remainder of the flight, each time the baby cried, I practiced compassion and was able to continue working or writing.

So why am I telling you this story? I think as teachers and coaches we can all take a more compassionate approach. To feel what our people feel. This doesn’t mean being soft or not holding them accountable. It means having a better understanding of the people you’re leading in order to connect with them in a more authentic way. A way that resonates with them. When we show compassion — when we show love — we build trust. And until we build trust we can’t hold people accountable and challenge them to pursue their potential.

If you think compassion isn’t a word that should be thrown around in the sports world…well, I completely disagree.

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