In this blog, I’m going to give you permission to tell me a hard truth. But first, I want to tell you about my weekend.
I just got back from a conference in California. On the surface this was a marketing educational seminar. But really, it was a melting pot of dreams.
I know that sounds grandiose. And I know that anytime you come back from a conference your head is a little spinny and your real world feels a little unreal.
But the 500 people who stood and clapped and hugged and traded business cards at this conference were some of the best people I’ve ever met. And I might have missed it.
Shake Hands with Strangers
I used to believe I was shy. When I was a kid, I ran on a constant stream of fear. I moved through my days on a scale somewhere between mild anxiety and full-on terror. I just seemed to be wired to be afraid of people. Even people I knew made me feel a bit wary.
But as I grew up—it takes some of us longer than others to do that, you know—I came to realize that my fear was unfounded. The more I opened my heart to receive the love of those around me and the love of God, the more I understood that people are, for the most part, good.
Growing up—and this time I mean aging—gives you a kind of self-confidence you can’t get any other way. You get hurt, you hurt others, and life goes on. And you either accept yourself as you are or you choose to live in misery. Thankfully, long ago I began to accept myself, and everything changed.
Let me tell you what I discovered: I’m not afraid of people when I’m not afraid of myself. When life feels like a prison, authenticity is like a get-out-of-jail-free card.
At this conference in California, all of this growing up translated into my hopping from one person to the next, shaking hands, introducing myself, finding out more about these amazing folks from all over the world—without fear.
I met people from Thailand, Russia, Canada, and China. Americans from Ohio, Colorado, Utah, and Georgia. I met doctors and horse trainers and tea makers and entrepreneurs of all types.
Yes, there were the occasional “I’m really only here to sell my whatchamacallit” people, but for the most part, everyone I met was generous, curious, and real.
In the airport before my flight home, I stopped to buy a snack and a bottled water. I beamed at the woman behind the counter, just as I had done with the 500 people in that hotel ballroom an hour earlier. After handing me my receipt and making eye contact with me, she broke into a huge grin. I realized in that happy moment with a total stranger that I don’t know how I show up for people in my life on a regular basis.
Yes, I try to smile and say thank you when I’m out and about. And I focus on listening and being positive with my friends and family.
But I had some singular experiences at this conference that reminded me how important it is to encourage other people on a deeper level, just as they encouraged me this past weekend.
Today I want to show up with my whole heart, be fully present, and be fully myself.
I don’t expect myself or anyone else to be super-humanly enthusiastic at all times. But I do want to hold myself to a higher standard than before this California experience. I met people who modeled to me what it’s like to really invest love into others—whether we know them or not. And I’m forever grateful. Back home and trying to work into my regular routine, I feel both enriched for having known them and empty where they existed for a few days.
So here’s my takeaway: I need to take a hard look on a regular basis at how I show up for people. If you know me personally or professionally, I’d like your input. I don’t ask this to feed my ego, so if all’s well, there’s no need to comment. But if you have some constructive feedback for me, I’m ready to hear it. Email me or comment below. I can take it. I want to know if there’s more I can do to show up and be present in your life.
If you want to take this challenge with me, ask around and find out how you're showing up to the people in your life.
And for the rare friends at the California conference who took the time to lift me up: I left a little of my heart with you. Thank you for the words and for the love.
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