Talking with Strangers

I can still remember the words.

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

We are reminded of these instructions when we are young to keep us safe.

But we get older.

Sometimes these words remain.

We go about our lives.

We keep to ourselves.

We don’t talk to strangers.

Our circles remain small.

Strangers cross our paths.

We could just smile politely and go back to our world, phones, books, or lives.

Instead we fight this urge to remain quiet, and begin Talking with Strangers.

We learn about their lives and their journey.

We meet second grade teachers who love Dr. Seuss and are almost moved to tears when you talk about making a difference.

We meet bankers who believe in small banks that are connected to customers.

We meet curriculum developers and admission specialists.

We meet heart transplant coordinator something something and another thing (perhaps about assisted living) that was hard to remember.

We learn about stories of big extended families.

We learn about why they meet for coffee and how they connect around the holidays.

We learn about moving away and coming back home.

We learn about passions that parallel your own.

We meet.

We learn.

Our circles expand.

I agree, “don’t talk to strangers.”

Talking with Strangers is so much better.

And…

I don’t typically do this, but a special shout out to Doug (Petey), Deb, Bob, Amy, Leslie, and Becky. Yes you did make it into the blog, and I didn’t even have to change your names. After trying so hard to remember six names, it seemed like a shame to waste it!

Among Giants

Among Giants

I have a project. An exciting, new project. A project that I have been talking about for months. A project that partners me with another person (someone who is extremely intelligent, organized, and a deep thinker). We met on the project a few times, took notes, and had a game plan with various assignments.

This project has been on my plate for a few months. I started some research, then stopped. I opened the file to start writing, then stopped. I took the folder out of my briefcase, only to put it back in. For whatever reason, I could not “Ship It” or make progress.

Something was triggering this procrastination. I tried to pin down the reason, but could not find the words.

I took a risk and called this partner. We decided to meet.

“I have to confess. Despite the excitement around this project and our discussions, I have not made any progress on my part.”

“Well, to be honest, I have had the same struggle.”

Another risk. The real risk.

“Ok, here is the thing. I am a little intimidated working with you on this project because you know this material and have studied it in more depth, and are so smart, and so…”

“What? You are intimidated by me?”

The reason for the mutual procrastination was revealed. We both viewed the other person as more competent, intelligent, and suited for this project. I am sure some it stems from the “Less Than Default Switch” and this setting skews our perspective of others.

Our conversation continued.

“It is almost as if I am among giants, when I compare myself to others.”

“Exactly, but I am still surprised you feel that way. I understand why I feel that way, but not you.”

Among giants. Our perceptions of others, their abilities, their accomplishments, their status can warp our own self-perception. This distortion can create the fear and insecurity that holds us back from trying, shipping, or stretching ourselves.

They are not actually giants. They are fellow travelers on this journey. But this problem seems older that just me and this project. Older than you and your project, idea, or journey as well.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about” Cassius

(Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

 

Rusty Connections

RustyOldHinges

(Image Courtesy of http://www.angiesroost.com)

A friend recently reached out to make sure we were okay. Nothing specific happened, just a little time passed since we last connected.

“Are we okay?”

“Yes. Why, do you think something is wrong?”

“No, just sometimes when time passes our connections get a little rusty.”

Rusty Connections. As time passes things don’t move with the same fluidity. There can be resistance or breakdown. Sometimes, things just stop working.

Our relationships and our connections with others can get rusty. They may have become stiff and lack the flexibility they once had. The passage of time may have caused them to stop working the same way they did years ago.

There is good news. With effort, many of these Rusty Connections can move again. That effort may take the form of a phone call, a text or email, or even a letter (see below). But remember, a rusty hinge doesn’t return to its original state. Time has passed, and it will move again but in a slightly different way. Perhaps with a little more effort.

(I have a good friend who is single-handedly attempting to bring back the written correspondence approach, and I applaud and am participating in this effort. Why not give it a try?)