Yesterday I was working at one of my favorite offices also known as Panera. I have friends who can't stand working from a place that constantly has people coming and going. It's one of my favorite spots to work though. Maybe it's because I love little distractions here and there to get me through? Or perhaps it's because I can get inspired by almost anything? It could very well be a mix of several reasons. I also love people watching and it is a perfect place to do that. At this particular Panera there is an older gentleman, Bill, that I know I have blogged about long ago. Bill is still faithful to his afternoon routine of setting himself up in a comfy chair with a coffee and making new friends. Since the last time I mentioned Bill and the Liars Club, some of his friends have come and gone. There is a new regular that joins Bill most days and his name is Earl. I love watching them start conversations with people and talk about everything and anything.
Well, I had been working for a few hours and I needed a quick restroom break. I asked Earl if he would watch my belongings while they were out of my sight. After a little joking about him taking my computer and running and then confessing he wouldn't know what to do with it, he agreed. After my little break and a beverage refill I got back to my table. I thanked Earl and, of course, that was an open invitation for a conversation to start. Earl started asking me questions, so I walked over and engaged in conversation with Bill and Earl. The conversation lasted for about an hour...possibly more...my phone was at my table and not about to leave until they were done. I loved hearing their stories. We touched on almost every topic out there. And when Earl told me he thought I was 23, I immediately knew he and I were going to be real good friends. Ha!
Earl is a kind man with a sweet face. He owns a Janitorial company that has done well for itself. He loves his family. He told me that the two things that will bring change to any person is from the books we read and the people we meet. Now, I don't totally agree with that statement as I believe change can come from other things, but I listened to him explain. He told me that reading helps you gain knowledge and even if you get one line or objective out of the whole book, it's worth it. He then said the same goes for people...even if you learn one thing from them, it's worth it. He kept it simple and I totally couldn't agree more about the people can bring change in your life (and yes, I agree with the reading one too).
People have such a great impact on our lives...in so many different ways. I know that Bill and Earl have changed me by sharing their lives with me. I love people. I love their stories. I love to hear about their experiences, the places they've been, things they've seen. I always come away with something. Life is short and part of us lives on when we share our lives with others. Changing the world doesn't always have to look like an international missions trip (which I do advocate as well). Many times it's as simple as a smile or conversation. It's being willing to listen. It's stopping for someone...even those you don't know.
I know that part of who I am and what is a strength of mine is to see the individualization of people and why that's important (that is according to Strength Finder and my own personal evaluation). I value who people are and can appreciate what they bring to the world around them. We often lose sight of people. In a world of doing, rushing to get it all done and trying to make something of our own lives we simply forget others. We don't always mean it, but it happens. Even though I was behind on getting things done yesterday because I had an hour delay due to spending time with Bill and Earl I felt good. The work would get done eventually and did, but I won't forget how grateful and kind Earl's words were to me. He thanked me for taking time to talk to them. He expressed that there aren't many people that would do that and with joy. He thanked me for smiling and meaning it. Ahhh, Earl, you did me in with that...meaning it. I was so grateful that I did truly mean in. And slightly convicted for the times that I didn't mean it. As I look at 2014 staring me straight in the face, that might be something I need to consider...keeping a heart that means it.
That reminds me...I need to revise my personal Mission and Vision Statement. What's yours?