Ever heard the saying, “….never met a stranger” and wondered exactly what that meant? Well I am one who has NEVER met a stranger and I can guarantee that I am a better person because of it. The people I’ve encountered throughout my life I’ve often met through happenstance and by virtue of being open to meet people.
“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli
The world, the diverse smorgasbord it is, full of people wandering aimlessly through life often crossing paths with others like in the movie “Crash” without realizing just how intertwined we are with each other. When looking at the external makeup of another it is easy to think perhaps that the guy/gal next to you couldn’t possibly relate to your life, your experiences, or your world. However as I have found, in just having a conversation with a random person whose path has crossed mine, that we [people] aren’t THAT different from one another.
Take for example, on a recent flight to Providence (another week in a 5 week-long series of flights to and fro for business) I had the pleasure of sitting next to an older Caucasian gentlemen who couldn’t have been more different than I on the surface….key word being “the surface”! We started talking and after a few random conversations about travel we determined that we attended rival high schools in Germany – he at Frankfurt, I at Mannheim. Now granted, as he put it, generations apart but that connection would never had been exposed had I been of the mindset that we wouldn’t have anything in common, therefore no reason to even exchange a ‘hello’!
He mentioned wanting to play football in high school but due to his size his coach didn’t allow him so he ended up in band – blame a mom who wanted to expose him to different things – to which I exclaimed how I, too was in the band in high school in addition to being a Varsity cheerleader. We continued on about what was bringing us to Providence which yet again revealed a profession that mirrored each other, he a Program Manager w/Accenture, I, a Project Manager with friends who works and worked for Accenture.
The entire conversation I kept thinking to myself how I always have a way of meeting and befriending the most random of people yet all of whom add some character and color to my already colorful life. As we deplaned we discussed our schedules and agreed to stay in touch as he is looking to be a write-in for the 2012 Election lol!
The week prior on the return flight to Atlanta, I was seated next to a cheerful and rather lively older gentleman who was on this particular flight with a number of his co-workers – all of whom work for Heineken no less. As we engaged in idle chatter about family and professions and the like, again I was moved by the similarities in life we have by way of family and marriage. He was inspired by my love of travel and even expressed how he really hadn’t traveled much outside the U.S due to the intimidation of not knowing what to expect, where to go or how he would be treated. Mixed with my life of travel to various lands he thanked me for giving him a different perspective on travel and thought it was pretty cool that one would be so open to the world as I!
So as I prepare to wrap this post up, what you should walk away with after reading this is the power in “hello” and how important it is to being open to meeting people and looking beneath the surface of an individual who appears very different from you as you may be move alike than you think.