I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value. – Hermann Hesse
In our world, we like to validate ____ (fill in the blank) anything by how many likes, shares, or re-tweets something gets. We like to validate certain causes, initiatives, or businesses based on some genius or celebrity that has their name attached to the venture. We like to validate our bodies and self-images based on magazines and the media. We also like to validate each other in our day to day living by who we think is important, and how they can help us make it to the next stage in life. Now, when I say, WE, each of those examples may not apply to you, or all of them might. But what I am sure of, is that each of us could take some time in valuing something a little more. Not because it has been validated by someone or something else, but taking the time to make that decision on your own.
Disclaimer: There are a few areas that I am definitely not talking about i.e. babysitters, new car recommendations, your local mechanic, etc. I know I say that jokingly, but there are certain areas in our life, where having a little validation helps you sleep at night. But what I am talking about today, are things that deal with improving our core values and learning new lessons. I am not talking about taking risks (my favorite subject) , but taking a person, an experience, or a new path with “arms wide open” and ears wiped clean. We often hurt ourselves by making judgments too soon or being tainted by the experience of others, and placing the wrong value on something and potentially disregarded it altogether and missing the benefits.
Due to my extreme extroversion, I have a knack for going to places where I know no one, because I might have an interest in a speaker, an event or maybe the occasion. I’m kind of a seasoned pro, so I now expect something out of most of my experiences, whether I learn something, make a connection, or reaffirm something that I already knew. I get annoyed with people who hesitate to do something, because they already know how x, y and z is going to happen…
I wasn’t always so open to the unknown, and there are times still, people and experiences surprise me, but you honestly have to be open to them.
*Enters new experience*
I don’t know what’s going on in your world, but I currently live in Texas, so the last two weeks have been consumed with the story of Sandra Bland. Last week, there was a vigil and silent march to the Capitol held in Austin. Now since Trayvon Martin, there have been a number of marches, protest, vigils, etc. for the many, many young black men and women who have died over the last two years and I haven’t been to a one. I do believe they serve a purpose, but I contribute my time to the community in other ways quite a bit. I would publicize and get the word out, but I had never put my foot to the pavement. Well, last week, I was asked to be the legal observer for the vigil and silent march, and I didn’t hesitate to take on this task, because there really wasn’t a threat of anything happening. Now, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, and I really was expecting much personally from the march, but boy was I surprised.
There were over 200+ people of all kinds of races, religions, and ethnicities to walk in silence up to the Texas’ capitol. Now it was hot, and I had a long day, but I was ready. The march was led by an amazing group of young women, and just to see all of those people come together was truly amazing. And as I walked, my mind had a million thoughts, what was it like in the 1960’s to do this over and over, and to not see the results you wanted instantaneously or being attacked with dogs, and water hoses, and all the horrible things that were happening to stand up for the rights that I enjoy today. And as I walked tears rolled down my face with the many thoughts of my parent’s past, and left me with more focus for the future. That the freedoms I have do have aren’t supposed to be taken for granted, and I have to be even more intentional with my time, effort and money to make a difference. I did not know that I needed that reminder, to refocus my efforts (as I wrote on focus JUST two weeks ago), but it was the experience I needed to shape my paradigm. New experiences, new knowledge.
But it just doesn’t stop with experiences, it happens with people as well. I have told this story quite often, but a nice old (er) lady made a little difference in all the world when it came to me starting my blog. I went to an entrepreneur talk put on by the City of Austin. With events in Austin, I always leave early to beat the traffic. This lady and I were the only two at the event location, a good 20 minutes before another soul walked into the place. We struck up a conversation, she told me she was retired and her first several comments were discussing how she had been caring for her parents, who now were no longer living. Now to be honest, if I didn’t have a strong appreciation for caregivers, I might not have seen any use in the conversation. I mean, she was an older lady, who’s been taking care of her parents, my thoughts could’ve been:
- What do we have in common?
- What on earth can we talk about? Or relate about?
But neither of those thoughts crossed my mind, and I am glad they didn’t. Maybe my intuition was working in my subconscious that day, because she was there for the same entrepreneur talk that I was attending. Too much delight and my improvement, she gave advice about taking risks, starting my blog, and not being afraid. I soaked it all up, not because I knew who this women was, but I figured she was taking the time out to talk to me, why not listen. It was only did I find out later, when we finally connected on LinkedIn, that this women was a powerhouse in her own right who chose family over her career. What a woman! But with her success, did it make her advice any more valid or correct, maybe? But had I made an assumption from her appearance or her initial comments, and not given her any of my time, I would not have gained inspiration that made a difference in my life. No matter how big or small, you never know the impact of something, pre-judging your experiences or people can have you missing out on a great opportunity or placing in value in the wrong things.
We have to be able to discern who is worth your time and who is not, but don’t be too quick and forget to value the unknown, you might just be a little better for it.
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