I was working out on a new piece of machinery at the gym when a man startled me by asking a question. “Are you watching the T.V. on this channel or do you mind if I change it to something else?” I assured him that I didn’t care because I was busy focusing on my workout and reviewing the notes in front of me. You see, I’ve realized that if I review notes for presentations while exercising, I internalize the information more effectively. I’m not sure why it happens, but my brain seems to work more efficiently during a workout.
As he started his exercise routine, he apologized again for changing the channel and he began to chat. It all started with asking what I was studying. I explained to him that I was reviewing a presentation and workshop that I was giving in the next few days. We began to discuss my business and he shared the trials and tribulations of his own career. One thing led to another and he began to tell me about his family. I asked him a few questions and I continued to listen.
As we kept talking, he began to get choked up with emotion. I was stunned to see that our conversation had taken that turn, but I continued to listen. I sensed that he was having difficulty accepting a recent turn of events in his personal life. I relayed my own similar situation and what I found to be the important piece that I could draw out of the experience. I recognized that he again began to get emotional and had tears in his eyes two more times during our talk.
Earlier in the conversation, I described my business teaching resilience and accepting change. He was fascinated and laughed that his company might be interested in the program. Since I was finished working out, I informed him that I was going to run out to the car and get my business card so he could connect with me. I hurried back in and handed him my card. We talked for a minute before he thanked me profusely with a smile on his face and awkwardly gave me a hug.
When I walked out, I thought about what had just transpired. Judging from his appearance, I would have never guessed in a million years that he would show such depths of emotion and feelings. Judging from his demeanor, I would have never considered that man to be someone carrying such a burden.
Many of you go to such great lengths to give the appearance that you’re not struggling and everything is great in your life. The rest of us help you in this charade by keeping our distance and not asking how you’re really feeling. Maybe we really don’t want to know. Maybe because it’s more work for us— it takes more energy and we have our own problems to handle. In this busy world, it’s easier to keep to yourself and just get through another stressful task on your to-do list. We have important stuff to do, or so it seems at the time.
However, if you’re really interested and sincere about giving back in your community, it’s possible that it’s easier than you think. It’s not always about joining another board or donating more money. Just open your eyes to what’s going on around you and get to know the person next to you. They just might need your help.