‘Glasgow’s loss, Cape Town’s gain’

Five words that inspired the career of Alison Edgar

Glasgow’s loss, Cape Town’s gain

As a motivational speaker, I often share anecdotes with my audience to inspire them to take action or think about their lives in a certain way. Today, I wish to share a story that has consistently struck a chord with my audiences. And I hope it resonates just as powerfully with Elite Business readers. 

I describe it as ‘Glasgow’s Loss, Cape Town’s gain.’ It is something that a complete stranger said to me at Glasgow Airport more than 30 years ago. On its own, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the context that brings this statement to life.

Let me take you back to 1988 in Glasgow, Scotland, where I was born and raised. I was 20 years old and living with my parents in our high-rise flat in Clydebank. I worked in hospitality and it was a job that I loved. However, after a while, I wanted a change. 

I wanted to travel and see the world, having previously been on only one foreign holiday to Benidorm. Other than this single trip to Spain, I usually spent my summers in Scottish caravan parks.

So I decided to book a trip to Cape Town where my sister was living at the time. And I intended to spend approximately six months there. We were a working class family, and I didn’t have any savings. Therefore, much to my parents’ dismay, I decided to cash in my life insurance policy. 

This left me with just enough money to book a one-way ticket to Cape Town and allow me to survive my first few days in South Africa. All I could feel was excitement. Who would I meet? What would I see? And how will this journey transform me? 

I counted down the days until I would be jetting off across the world. But then reality struck. As I waved goodbye to my parents at Glasgow Airport and approached security, it suddenly hit me. 

My excitement began to plummet fast. I started to feel sick with fear as I realised I was completely alone, travelling half-way across the world. The voice in my head told me that I will be many thousands of miles away from my family. And what if I got lost?  

As I approached the security desk with tear-filled eyes, an airport employee noticed my distress. He asked a simple question: “Where are you heading, lass?” My reply was “Cape Town,” which was spoken as I quivered with fear.

His response, however, was a ray of light. He looked at me, paused, and with a touch of Glaswegian wisdom, said: “Well, hen, that’s Glasgow’s loss and Cape Town’s gain.” Those words, uttered by a stranger at a pivotal moment, changed the course of my life. 

What was meant to be a six-month trip became an incredible six-year adventure. And it was only the beginning. This journey was the spark that ignited my career in hospitality. I was suddenly on a path that would eventually take me to all corners of the globe.

So what is the moral of the story? Answer: Life has a way of surprising you when you least expect it. You may be content where you are, but remember that if you never take chances, you’ll never discover the true potential that lies within you. 

In my case, I built and crafted my skills, discovering a flair for customer service that has propelled me into the world of sales. 

From there, I ventured into the realms of coaching and I am now a motivational speaker. I am passionate about helping others. The journey is never-ending and there is usually something better waiting for you around the corner. 

Your potential is often hidden beneath the surface. So, it’s vital you find a way to step outside of your comfort zone. The next time an opportunity presents itself; Or you feel that you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, then remind yourself of ‘Glasgow’s Loss, Cape Town’s gain.’

Alison Edgar MBE
Alison Edgar MBE

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