Brace yourself, this starts off rough. And there’s a point to it, so bear with me. I know good friends or family members with at least one of these conditions, and so may you: cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, depression, ADHD, dyslexia, blindness, deafness, infertility, PTSD, severe arthritis, alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness.
Recently, I found out a valedictorian of a high school in my county, an A-student, and well-spoken young man was homeless. This reminds me of a statement by Ian MacLaren, a noted Scotsman and author, who cared deeply about those around him. He offers wise counsel with the words, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”
Today, I’d like us to consider how well we really know the people in our lives. I mean REALLY know them. The world today is like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house is lifted by the wind of the whirling tornado - people fly in and out of our lives. Unlike Dorothy in that moment, it is something we CAN control.
Growing up, I was the kid who knew a lot of people, but very few at any level of depth. I didn’t purposefully set out to do this, it just happened, perhaps because of my immaturity. My brother, who’s just 15 months younger, had an approach quite unlike mine. He knew a few people at a remarkable depth. In time, I matured and adopted his method, for those that I truly admired. The shift has been wonderful.
As I’ve gotten to know individuals at a deeper level, life has become more profound, relationships more meaningful. It has been enlightening and compelling. People are incredibly giving and helpful, regardless of the ask or the situation. And those that aren’t aligned with my values, I purposefully haven’t allowed them time with me to influence. Therefore, here’s what I’d like us to consider:
Questions for all of us…
· The relationships I care about, how deep do they go - besides a beer and a game or a wine and a whine?
· How many of my LinkedIn connections have I spoken to, met with, helped in some way, or thanked in some way? (Do I even have a LinkedIn network?)
· Have I donated lately to a cause that helps our fellow human beings? (time, items, money, etc.)
Tougher questions for all of us…
· What actions have I taken to make my workplace better for me and those around me?
· What actions have I taken to make my community a better place to reside?
· What actions have I taken to make my world a better place to live?
These types of actions don’t have to be enormous to better our lives. My example is this… do I walk in my work place, hop over a crumpled paper on the floor, and complain how dirty the place is - or do I pick up the piece of trash, toss it in a wastebasket, and make it better for me and everyone around me?
Likewise, the interactions with people in our circle of friends and peers do not have to be enormous. They simply need to be thoughtful. Genuine. And it can make an exponential and positive difference. Pay it forward, so to speak. The Boy Scouts taught me when I was young to leave a campsite (or wherever I was) better than when I arrived. It’s one of my favorite life lessons.
Next time, we leave our table at the coffee shop, our buddy’s basement after the game, or in those rare moments when our eyes raise up from our mobile device – let’s look behind us. How does the scene present itself for those in our wake?
Visit me and say hello!