When I am working late I often catch a taxi home. I try to use my travel time productively particularly if I have a lot going on. At times I may continue working or catch up on basketball news from the day. Other times I might be in a bit more of a chatty mood and engage the driver in conversation.
When I speak to the drivers I love finding out about who they are and where they come from. Majority of the drivers in Melbourne are from India and I’m always curious to discover who they are, what they did before becoming a taxi driver and more importantly why – particularly because a lot of them are highly educated and choose to go into the taxi industry.
In the past few months I’ve been fortunate to hear 2 stories from cab drivers that really moved me.
One of the guys was simply radiating happiness from the moment I stepped into his taxi. On this particular day I was in the mood to have a conversation and he shared that he works upwards of 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. I almost fell out of my seat when I heard this. And he said this with a smile on his face without a single complaint. He works this hard because he has a young family with 2 kids and wants to provide a good quality life for them. He gets a lot of happiness from spending time with them, so much so after getting home from a long shift on the weekend he frequently picks up the family, jumps back in the car and drives another 150kms to Geelong to spend a few hours at his kids favourite fun park. The thing that really struck me about him was how genuinely happy he was. There wasn’t any sadness or negativity about anything. In my mind he was entitled to complain about so much i.e. how many hours he works, the wage tax drivers earned, impact of Uber on their business, etc, however there was zero negativity.
When I left his cab and went back home I had to tell my wife his story. I said to her that we honestly have nothing to complain about given what this guy goes through and how happy he seems. All the things that I typically complain about pale into insignificance based on what he shared with me – first world problems is what I have!
The 2nd taxi driver had a remarkably similar story. By day he worked in a warehouse as a packer and by night he drove taxis. The night he was driving me he dropped me off at 9pm. He then had a 45 minute trip home and if he picked someone up on the way then who knows what time he would eventually get home. He then had to get ready for bed in order to wake up at 3am so he could start his shift at the warehouse at 4am. He would then work till 12pm before going home having a quick bite and jumping into a taxi for another 8 hour shift. That’s right he was working two 8 hour shifts! That’s an average of 16 hours a day for 5 and a bit days a week! And once again without a single complaint. His demeanor was a bit different to the initial driver. It was more matter of fact in terms of juggling two jobs to provide the type of life he wants for his family. He didn’t come across as being negative or beat down by life. Once again when I left his taxi I felt so inspired by his story and more importantly the positive mindset he adopts.
These trips left quite a strong impression on me. In the next few days I was contemplating the stories and what I could learn from them. They both seemed to work extremely hard in order to provide a life for their families. They also had adopted very positive perspectives about their life. I realized that there’s 2 things that I could incorporate into my life:
- Being grateful for what you have
Both of the drivers appeared thankful to have the jobs that they had and therefore be able to provide for their family. When I looked at my life I felt that I have a lot of opportunity to be more grateful for what I already have rather than wanting more. I have a beautiful, healthy family who live in a comfortable home. Yes we have to be cautious with where we spend our money but we can provide a fantastic life for our daughter. I could choose to complain about what I don’t have and yearn for more, but the reality is I would always want more. Alternatively I could take a page out of the 2 cab drivers and be grateful for what I do have.
2. Being clear on your why
Both of the drivers made significant personal sacrifices in order to provide a better life for their family. Whether they worked a 14 hour shift driving a taxi, or juggled a warehouse packing job with driving a cab the consistent theme was they were doing it for their family. I realized that this clarity of purpose enabled them to have a fantastic outlook on life. Being clear about your ‘why’ is critical in continuing to motivate and inspire you to do great things. Whether it’s your family, or it’s making a difference in this world, determining your drivers will keep you inspired and motivated.
I felt so inspired after those two cab rides and never imagined that I would seek motivation in such an area. I guess inspiration is truly all around us.