When Strangers Become Friends

I was having lunch after doing the morning keynote at a conference in Alabama this week, when a woman came over and crouched down beside my chair. “I just wanted to tell you how much your talk meant to me…” she began as tears fell from her eyes.

One thing lead to another and the next thing you know, it’s three hours later and I’m Oceanside at the Gulf Shores with my new friends Leah, Peggy and Celeste (also audience members and colleagues of Leah). We are sharing stories, laughing and learning from each other during this delightful unexpected encounter that none of us could have imagined a few hours earlier.

I was sharing some highlights of my 50/50 list (50 challenges in my 50th year) and Leah shared with me her unique bucket list…to do a different adventure, each one in a different state.

How cool is that! As she reviewed some of her locales and adventures that she already had under her belt, we discovered she hadn’t had one in Alabama and that was it! I was on a mission to ensure that she didn’t fly out of Alabama the following day without a new adventure to both put on, and stroke off, her list!

By now it was late in the day and things were shutting down. As we walked on the beach we had to pause as an ATV with a trailer was backing into the water to pick up the last lone jet ski. We continued walking and Leah had revealed she had never ocean-water jet skied. We all stopped and looked at each other. New experience – new state, it was perfect! Leah was hemming and hawing. You could almost see the wheels in her head go round and round.

I said, “Let’s walk towards it while you think about it!”

The motion was all she needed, to put her over the edge, “I’ll do it!” She declared!

We went over to rent the jet ski.

“Sorry we’re closed, we open at 9 am tomorrow.” said the young, tan man.

“But we’ll be gone, but she just wants like 3 minutes, but it’s on her list, but she’s never been in Alabama before, but, but, but…”

Sympathetic, but not budging, no was the final answer and the ladies walked away dejected.

They left, but I remained, I hardly had to say a word, I could tell he was so close to letting Leah go! Less than a minute later the operator said, ‘Tell her to get a life jacket.”

Delighted, Leah suited up, waded into the ocean to await her chariot of water.

A few minutes she later she was back, her only clothes soaking wet with, a deliriously happy smile on her face and a story to tell (complete with a shark sighting!)

I loved everything about this encounter. If Leah hadn’t taken the courage to come up to me to share her heart after the event, if I hadn’t told her about my list, if we had taken no for an answer, if she hadn’t wanted to get wet…if, if, if.

Stories happen, life happens when you share, when you let yourself be vulnerable, when you say yes, when you get wet!

What are you doing to really live your life?

Sometimes, no means no. And sometimes, if you are lucky, no means maybe!


Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, and the recipient of the 2014 Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur Award for Contributions to Community. Stephanie empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.

* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.


2 thoughts on “When Strangers Become Friends”

  1. Opportunities present themselves to us daily – its’ just learning to be cognizant of these “opportunities” which at first may appear as problems, diversions, uncomfortable situations, setbacks, segways, derailments and the like. Thx for sharing this experience Stephanie 😉

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