One of the things I wish I would have realized a long time ago is that life is infinitely better together. It is amazing how this simple truth escaped me decades ago and how it still seems to be an elusive concept to many who try to do life all on their own.
It was fourth grade and a I wrote a note that my teacher confiscated and brought to the student counselor. From there my parents were called, my mother came to the school, shocked, and within a day or two I went to another counselor. I honestly don’t remember much more of the event, probably because I have blocked it out, but one thing I do remember is that I felt so dang alone and empty.
In that loneliness I fell into reading and started devouring books as best I could. There where a few in particular that really caught my attention and I would constantly go back to. Those where the books by my favorite author Roald Dahl. I am so glad I stumbled upon those books because they helped save me from loneliness and isolation. When I read those books, my imagination would run wild. I would think and dream of characters and lands that were magical and where anything seemed possible. I would get lost in those books for hours, turning page after page, being filled with wonder and life. It was these books that brought me into a much better state of mind and that helped form my healthy thirst for creativity and books.
I never ever thought of writing Roald Dahl a letter to thank him until now. As it turns out though, I wouldn’t have been able to write him one anyway, because by the time I discovered his world and words of wonder, he had already passed away. Even so, I wanted to immortalize these words and say “Thank you Mr. Dahl. Your words helped create a since of wonder and creativity and even made me realize that this world is one of pure imagination and full of amazing people with amazing stories. You helped save me from some dark and lonely times and helped shape who I am today. I am forever grateful.”
Please, take this challenge I am about to give you some serious thought. I challenge you to handwrite a letter to someone who has impacted your life. Let them know that impact they have had on you. It doesn’t matter if it is someone you have never met in person, just let them know. If they are no longer on this earth, write a post on the internet letting everyone know what impact they had. Please, take this challenge and spread some good, and don’t forget to let us know who it was and why you wrote them as well.
Two words that are often forgotten in any line of work are “Thank you.” Now after a project, contract, or event is completed we may half hazardly throw out those words, but that is what everyone does.
Some people think it is an overrated idea and that a text message or email sends the same message, but that just isn’t true. People value what takes time and costs more and a text or an email doesn’t send that type of message. On the other hand, a hand-written note that you had to purchase an envelope, card, and stamp lets the other person know that they are worth your time and money.
I also believe that with whatever you do, you need to be you 100%. I don’t mean for you to use this fact as a scapegoat saying that “I’m not someone who sends cards.” I bring up this fact because I want you to use a little flair or embellishment when you send these cards. When picking out stamps from the post office, don’t just do the typical ones. Look through their booklets and pick out something fun, creative, or whimsical. Pick out a stamp that you think represents you or that you think is pretty cool. If you want to go one step further, you can also find a card design that fits your personality or you can have customized cards emblazoned with your name or logo. What I am trying to get across here is that even in the small details you need to let your personality shine through.
Now that you have got your cards and stamps in order, the most important reason why you need to send thank you cards is because the world doesn’t have enough of these floating around. How many times have you read a book that changed your life, heard a speech that moved you, or had a conversation that shifted everything in your worldview? When these moments happen, we need to let the other person know. If it’s an author, find an address to send them the card and mail off a thank you note letting them know how their book specifically impacted you. If it was a speech that you heard or a conversation that you had, find out a good address and mail off that thank you card.
As you start to make this a habit, it is amazing how all of this good that you are putting into the world will come back to you. The connections that you can make and the opportunities that these notes can bring about are life giving for not only the receiver, but for you also. Please, take this encouragement and start letting others know that you care greatly about them and their contribution in your life.
If you don’t truly know yourself, how do you ever plan to get better and plan against your weaknesses?
Something I have come to realize is that I like to go full speed ahead and do things before asking any questions. It is a trait that has been incredibly helpful at times, and also incredibly destructive. In my professional life it has helped bring about great life changing experiences, yet at the same time it has caused me to put my foot in my mouth and cause issues because I hadn’t fully planned.
Now I absolutely love this trait about me, but I realize that it can have a pretty negative affect if not controlled. Over the past 10 months I have seen this trait of “do first and plan later” time and time again. Most recently it was when I called a handful of friends trying to convince them we should put on a small sales conference. I was taking steps and getting people to do tasks when a I ended up having a conversation with a trusted mentor. The life altering observation he made was that I was taking too big of a bite. He asked the question,”What is one small step you can take that you could rally people around?”
That question changed everything. It made it go from a conference to s small monthly get together of young professionals over coffee or beer.
That one question shined a big light on a giant weakness of mine. Ever since that weakness has been brought to light, I have changed how I plan and do things. Now I am far from perfect as I still catch myself running ahead without asking the needed questions, but at least I am aware of it and can plan against it by having trusted people in my life tell me when I am rushing ahead and trying to take on too big of a task.
I’m not sure what your weaknesses are, but you need to get some trusted folks around you to help shine a light on what they may be, so that you can plan against them.
What is your weakness and how can you plan against it?
The other day I was talking to a friend when he called me a networking machine. This was after I mentioned to him that I was grabbing ice cream with a friend at work who was retiring after 43 years of working at the good ol’ Tip Top Poultry. My initial response and the one that is screaming in my brain as I am thinking about this conversation is “I love people.”
I can’t help it, I have an insatiable urge to connect with others and share a little bit in their story. I want to get to know them for who they are and to see how we can connect.
Over the years I have learned how to dial down the intensity with how I passionately pursue people. (Ahhh the alliteration is abundant.) It has been tough, but dialing down the intensity has served me. I have come to realize that not everyone is as social, and people may want different types of relationships for us then I may be thinking. All of this is ok, it just allows me to use a little emotional intelligence as I get to know others.
I mention all of this because I want to challenge you to get out there and connect with others. I know that may not be your thing, but life is infinitely better together. Connect with others how best works for you. You have amazing insights and experiences to offer others and you are not done growing yourself. Please, do us all a favor and love on people how best works for you because I can promise yo u one thing if you actually do just that, this world will be a better place as you connect with others and show them that community is all around.
Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens. Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call. I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.
Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy. What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email. Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call. Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter. Reach out and ask for it. Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing. This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.
I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity. Here are just a handful of things I have learned:
- Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
- Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
- Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
- Culture is everything. Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.
These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others. Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them. One last word of caution. Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson. Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.
Who do you need to call? What did you learn?