I am sitting in beautiful downtown Houston outside the Hilton waiting for my friend to pick me up. I enjoyed a wonderful convention and am blessed to stay an extra day and spend it with a friend I hadn’t seen in about 35 years until a brief visit in October. I am so excited for our time together. But that’s not actually what this post is about or that will work into it I am sure.
As some of you know, I have been doing a lot of personal development stuff particularly in the areas of business along with becoming an all around better me…actually that’s the biggest thing I get from the books, podcasts, TED talks and Youtube sessions I engage in. Over time I will share some of those nuggets because what you immerse in influences who you become. This post is about one of those things I want to work on based on something a big leader in the real estate industry has been doing and talked about in a podcast.
He is an introvert and his business coach gave him an assignment to meet for coffee, talk to and listen to 50 strangers in a year and at the end ask them if there was a way he could help them with something. It was (is as he continues through another year) to increase his comfort level talking with people, strangers in particular.
I totally loved the idea. Despite getting over-peopled, (especially in crowds) and needing my down time, I am more of an extrovert than introvert. I have therefore been wanting to modify the idea to suit what I need to work on. I have exposed myself to crowds, this weekend being an example with over 1500 people in a grand ballroom for sessions and events day and evening, but I wouldn’t say I have a huge discomfort with it, just need downtime too. I do need to listen to people more. Anyone who knows me, knows I can talk endlessly. On days when I am not talkative (I think, I am just listening), my friends comment that I am quiet. So I have been formulating a plan. Coming to Houston was round one of practice. I sat with a lady on a plane and yes I did talk some but I concentrated on asking her questions. I have talked and told my stories this weekend but have also listened. Speaking of stories, here is what happened last night:
We had an 80’s theme closing party. After leaving there I changed into jeans and then decided with the warm temperatures I wanted to go outside and enjoy a short walk. As I was approaching the corner, there was a young lady on the phone then she hung up just as I got there and sat on the curb in tears. I sat down beside her, gave her a hug and she told me her situation and unleashed her anger. I listened, made a couple of jokes (as I do when I try to disperse stress) and continued to sit with my arm around her and reassure her. In the end, I told her I was not making any judgment about her situation but told her in the next little while to evaluate it and that she is worth more than this moment and moments like these (if they happen regularly). It was a 10 minute interaction with a stranger. I talked less than 2 minutes of it. I am not a hero, did not go above an beyond, I was just there at that moment. That, and I took the opportunity to listen and to provide for her in that moment, the hug that she needed (and for which she expressed great gratitude). My few words and my action of listening may impact her life in a small way now or maybe a huge way unknown or unrecognized by either of us. However, I was rewarded in knowing in that moment, I made her feel worth more than all she was going for and that is huge.
Which brings me to my assignment for me. I am going to be setting up coffee/tea/visit dates with family and friends to start, because they will still be nice to me if my personal social experiment goes south. After awhile, I will be looking to others to visit with. I will plan for 1 hour of time, so if any of you want to volunteer, I will put you in my calendar. Even if you don’t like me, feel free to have coffee with me. I will talk, but only enough to make the conversation more comfortable. I will mess up with some of you and request a do over because I am just learning. I won’t share any private details of our visit but if there is something I learn about me, I will blog about what you taught me keeping your name out of it unless you want me to share that. And at the end, I will ask if there is anything I can help you with. I may not be able to in the moment or even at all, but sometimes someone can give a request and a year down the road I can say, ‘hey, that someone needed this or that, and now I know how to help’. If there is nothing I can help you with in the moment, that’s okay too. I want it to be fun and relaxing and enjoyable for both of us. So, if you get a strange text from me in the near future, no need to wonder what I am up to, this is it.