Last weekend, I was such a kid.
The air and water show was taking place in Chicago and it was a perfect day. So I grabbed a few snacks, a water bottle, called my friend Zak, and made my way to the beach.
As we arrived, the entire lakefront was packed from end-to-end – picnic blankets, tents, lawn chairs and the most diverse audience imaginable filled every square inch of the lawns and beaches. Kids sat on parents’ shoulders while young couples sat hip-to-hip. Groups of friends clanked their drinks while families prepared their picnic meals.
The one thing in common?
Everyone was looking up.
Planes of all shapes and sizes were flying past us at an unusually close proximity. The old carriers flew low to the water and shared their deep groans, while the smaller trick planes flipped and zipped through the air like circus acrobats.
We. Were. Mesmerized.
Zak and I spent most of the day with our arms outstretched, pointing at spectacular moments and laughing at the amazing sounds and sheer power we were witnessing.
But why? Why are we so drawn to amazing feats?
As I began to listen more closely, I heard a local radio station announcing the show. The broadcasters were speaking like sports announcers, going into great detail about how difficult the maneuvers were. They were painting a picture of what each pilot was doing – stepping on rudder pedals, yanking side sticks, keeping their bearings at breakneck speeds and multiple flips.
Then it hit me.
There is something special that happens when you know that there is a person, a real-life-human-being just like you, in the cockpit. You don’t just see a plane, you think of someone who has spent their life getting to a place where they can do something so difficult so well. I sincerely believe the show would be way less interesting if the planes were simply computer programmed drones.
The story is in the people – doing something they love and believe in – in a new, creative, and courageous way.
That’s what makes us look up.
That’s what makes us gather, point, and cheer.
The same goes for the Olympics. Simone Biles. Usain Bolt. Katie Ledecky. Michael Phelps.
They made us look up.
I’m not sure about you, but there are a lot of things happening in the world that make me want to keep my head down and just get through the day. But I think we’re better with our heads raised, looking to the horizon and seeing what’s possible. If you’re reading this, I have a feeling you do to.
What do you believe in?
What do you love?
What should you attempt to new a new height?
Sure, you may not flip a plane through the air or break an Olympic record; but if you do your thing with curiosity, energy, and commitment, you’ll be infinitely better for it.
And so will we.
Up you go,
PS: This Saturday, August 27th at 11:30am, we’re holding our annual event for Experience Institute. EXPO is a chance to gather our friends, families, peers and mentors to celebrate the past year of incredible learning and growth of our graduating Fellows, all while welcoming the incoming class. This year, the event will be held at City Winery in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Lunch and wine will be served. Stories will be shared. And Ei’s dear friend, Katherine Darnstadt, will be giving a closing address. There are only 34 spots left. We hope you can join us.
I promise…you’ll look up.
Save your spot here: https://ei-expo2016.eventbrite.com.