Ah good people. I love me some good people. Do you know when you have those times when you have the opportunity to be surrounded by someone (or sometimes more than one someone) who is just so present, so clear in their thinking, and listens so intently that you feel completely heard, inspired, and appreciative of what they bring into the world?
Last night I had one of those times. Maybe it happens often for you (yes I feel that way in the presence of Chris). It also nice when it is a good friend, who maybe you have not seen in years, and you feel the conversation flows so easily from one thing to the next. This friend lives on the other coast from me and I do not see him and his wife often, but I am always grateful for the time we get to spend with each other.
I also think it can sometimes be rare to have these individuals in your life. The ones who are so attentive and care so much for what is coming out of your mouth. It is a give and take, a flow of ideas, it is a collaboration of sorts. A banter between minds that are constantly evolving and thinking. Looking together at how to grow and be better individuals.
For those of you in my life reading this, who do this in my life and in the life of others, I thank you. I really do. These are the kinds of conversations I want to have. I want to grow and learn with you. I want to be challenged. I want to try my best to make each individual encounter in my life make things better for others. Regardless of how you receive me, (my directness and transparency might make you uncomfortable), I do it for the bigger picture. I do it for all the good people out there who are present.
I just read a heartfelt article from Fast Company called: “Anderson Cooper: Why ‘No Plan B’ Is the Only Plan.” written by Anderson Cooper himself. I have had a news-crush on him for years. I think it first happened after reading his book: “Dispatches from the Edge” that is about his life growing up and his career in journalism. Maybe because his integrity seems to ooze out. Sure he comes from a rich family, he knows luxury. How could you not when your mom is Gloria Vanderbilt. Yet, he chose a different route.
He chose his passion. How many wealthy kids choose to go and be in the middle of a natural disaster, war, riots, poverty, just to tell the story? Not many that I can think of. He has an interesting life. If you read his article, you will learn a bit more about him — about the loss of his father at the age of ten, and the suicide of his brother when he was in college. I love this idea that he shares:
“I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunity if no one gives you one.”
What if we all did that in life? How many opportunities would we bring to ourselves and the world? When did we stop looking for them?
Maybe I relate to Cooper because I have lost a lot of my family. Losing my parents at such an early age made me in some ways grow a shell. It made me realize that I had to look out for myself, and that there wasn’t any “adult” that was looking out for me. Sometimes I think we have this built-in defense mechanism that says oh my parents will be there to pick up the pieces, even when we are 30 and 40 and so on. That never was a reality for me. The words he shares to explain how he felt after losing his father and brother are exactly how I too felt:
“I wanted to become autonomous, prepare myself for any eventuality, and protect myself from further pain.”
While my autonomy means I still have a Plan B, and C through to Z, my story is different. My fears are mine, how I react to them is my story. I hope Cooper’s story resonates with you. You might just find a new opportunity opens up because you are looking for it.
We always need to hone how we approach our life. Do we go to work each day and hope that everything will be exactly the same? I hope not. I hope we each have a bit of us that strives for continuous improvement. I hope we ask ourselves: How are we doing? Are we succeeding or failing? Where did you own it? Where did you lead?
Each and every day we are training for our next day, week, month, year. Our current stamina helps us to be able to go into the next day, and the one after that. We build our learning from one day, and it helps us in that next tough meeting, presentation, or dilemma we are trying to solve. I am a fan of continuous improvement. I think it is the way we learn more about ourselves. If we were not on the track to grow, learn more about ourselves, and be better, than what is ultimately the point? We should all want to be better. Better at work, better with our significant other, better with our families. We all have something to learn, and these learnings help us to grow into ourselves.
There are times when I do not want my life to change. I like where I am at and change just feels like my comfort level, and day-to-day will be grossly different. Sometimes though different might just take us to the next level and we are better for it. What we know changes. We have to get to know new people, projects, and problems to solve. Maybe the newer folks are not as fun, or the problems cause us to want to pull our hair out, but in the end if we are growing and learning it brings us to a better place. Sometimes it is just hard to see that better place. Through it all, we grow — whether by learning new skills, or more patience.
Thus continuous improvement. It brings a smile to my face that we each have an opportunity to work hard each day and be better. To learn more. To be better. Bring it. Learn more. Be a better you.
It happens all the time. You know that moment when you start to tell someone something big, and deep, and raw. It might be how you really feel about them, or a story from your past, or it might be advice you have been holding back from telling them. At times you hold it in and later, as you walk away from them, you think inside: “I should have said it, I should have told them, I missed my moment.” You might even go back to that moment days and weeks later wondering if you will ever have an opportunity to share it with them. I was reminded of those moments when I read this on David Kanigan’s blog: “There’s that split second moment.”
“you know when someone asks you a general question like “how are you” or jokingly says something like “do you ever even sleep” and there’s that split-second moment where you consider actually telling them things like whether they’re good or bad things whether they’re sad or happy or anything at all you just think about telling them everything but you don’t” -jackfrost.co
It happens when you are out to drinks with a good friend, or a new friend, or maybe even a colleague. You start to tell them some part of you that you may not share with many, and you start to tell them about you, and then you stop. Often it might be hard to know why. Maybe it is an intuition that you feel, and other times it might just be bad timing, but you feel that moment, you feel that urge, and it stays with you. How often do you have these split second ponderings? They happen fast.
Other times you look back and realize how grateful you are that you kept your mouth shut. You are not ready to share that specific story. You breathe a sigh of relief for that potential slip, as you are not ready for the rest of the world to know just yet what you have been through, or what you are still going through. It is still too raw, too new. Did you stop yourself because you were afraid, or did you stop because you heard a small little voice inside that said. Not yet, not now?
We all have those split second moments. How often do they happen for you?
We grow up as kids not wanting to be last. When we stood in groups or lines in gym class, none of us wanted to be picked last. Everyone wanted to know they were wanted. Being last meant a lot of things, and different things to different people, but 99% of us did not want to be picked last (regardless of why). That does not mean that we all wanted to be first. We just knew we did not want to be last. Yet someone had to be last. Someone always has to be last.
You can decide though if you are first or last. A colleague told me recently to allow your work to direct your opportunity. So when I recently came across this short and sweet Seth Godin blog, I was inspired, and in case you are not Godin followers, I had to share. I’ve included the entire text (yes all of it) here:
Before you’re asked.
Before she asks for the memo, before the customer asks for a refund, before your co-worker asks for help.
Imagine what the other person needs, an exercise in empathy that might become a habit.
I remember so often growing up that my dad ingrained in me to think ahead, to figure out how I was going to approach something before I did it. The funny thing — my dad barely had a strategic bone in his body. Sure, as a contractor he had to strategize house plans and such, but other than that I did not gain my strategic mind from my dad. In any case, he did teach us to think ahead and be prepared BEFORE he got to us. Have our room clean before he lost it. Do our chores before we had to be reminded. Ask how we could further help. Whether I like it or not, he taught me to be proactive. I wonder if he truly knows that or if it was more about what he wanted.
Ah well, I will never know. I do so love and appreciate those that I interact with on a daily basis to volunteer, offer their help and support, and think about what another might need. Anticipate. Be available and helpful. I try to do it, and I love when those around me reflect the same behavior. Do we all have these skills? I am not sure. I think we all have them in some form. Some of us just elect to use them and others let them lie dormant.