There will be chance meetings in your life… every day if you are really paying attention. Moments where you either have the opportunity to change someone’s life or they will have the opportunity to change yours. These moments may not seem like much on the surface when they appear. You have to use your keen gut feelings to detect them. Your initial response to them might be to ignore them. I employ you not to do that but rather embrace them. Take a few precious minutes out of your day in order to see these chance moments for what they really are. Open your full spectrum of humility, kindness, generosity, and patience in order to maximize your time and theirs. You will discover something so magical that it will seem like a secret gift passed to you in an envelope from a stranger.
Tonight was one of those moments for me. One of the many I’ve experienced. A kid (30) on a bike pulls up to my car and asks for some money. Then he tells me he is trying to get some money together to get a phone. Any person not in tune with themselves might brush this off as some random guy begging for money. I simply asked the right questions. Why do you need a phone? Who do you need to call? Would it be easier if I just call them for you and put them on speakerphone? Ultimately he called his girlfriend who was in Virginia visiting her son. This guy was drenched in sweat from head to toe. He looked like he had been riding for miles. He just happened to land in my lap from out of nowhere in some parking lot.
Potential vs kinetic:
if I would have brushed it all off and told him to beat it, however politely, the energy transfer between us would have stayed potential. I chose to engage which converted all of that potential energy into kinetic.
I don’t know about you, but turning potential energy into kinetic is probably one of the most powerful things that happen on this planet. It’s the main reason we are able to enjoy the lives we have with so many choices and luxuries. Anytime you can harness potential energy and turn it into Kinetic you are moving the train forward for an entire society.
So I talked with him for a bit and got some more of the story. He was looking for work and had been homeless for some years already. We talked about his anxiety with his girlfriend being near her ex-husband. I gave him some personal insight because I’ve been on the opposite side of that coin. I asked about what his true passion in life is and he told me mechanical engineering. He also told me how hard it is to get a job when you have a police record looming over your head.
We probably spent the better part of 25 min talking and I told him I would give him some money if he promised to do one thing. I wrote down the names of 3 books and told him which one he should grab first. The number one on the list was “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” by Kamal Ravikant. The most important because he explained how his self-esteem was further below the poverty level than his bank account.
My humble advice as if I was telling my 30-year-old self
The other two books, “Th Daily Stoic” – Ryan Holiday and “Managing Oneself” HBR – Peter Drucker are still both great books in their own right. I stressed the first book because after spending enough time trying to figure myself out and studying everyone else I’ve come to a conclusion. We humans on this planet have been slipping deeper into a place that lacks self-worth. We make it all look great on the outside, but on the inside, we are dying slowly and feeling like we are not good enough for this world. The suicide rates are rising. The mental stability of this planet is slowly getting worse. At the core of all of this, the one thing I see over and over is the fact that people don’t really love themselves. They don’t care about themselves.
Why loving yourself matters.
Remember earlier when I mentioned Kinetic vs potential energy transfer? When you tell someone else you love them they feel it and it lifts them up. That is the same transfer I had with my 30-year-old biking friend above. When you tell yourself these things, when you show the same amount of admiration toward yourself, you are internally transferring energy to yourself. You might think it’s dumb and it doesn’t make sense. The brain doesn’t differentiate. It sees a similar transfer of energy the same as if someone external said something to you. The same is true for telling yourself you are a failure or a screw-up. It will gradually feel the same way as though your worst enemy was saying it to you. That’s why a lot of professional athletes can watch hundreds of hours of video in their specific sporting event and get a similar training effect even though they are not physically doing the work.
Nothing I say is an overnight phenomenon. It will take some time for it to be ingrained, and even then you should continue to make it one of your daily rituals in order to get the greatest effect over time. The only way to know for yourself is to try it. Create Kinetic energy and stop hoarding all of that potential energy. The more Kinetic you create internally the more you can pass on externally to everyone around you.
Update: This evening I was minding my own business and another moment jumped in front of me. A little girl around 4-5 years old looking very sad and walking all alone in the foyer of the shopping area. I had to look twice to make sure I knew what I was seeing was real. It certainly was. As soon as I approached her she was a little bit startled and then the tears started pouring. I asked her a couple key questions and then told her not to worry… We were going to find her parents. I asked if she would like to come with me to the customer service counter and see if we could call her parents on the loud speakers, offered my index finger for her to grab on to and off we went. I sat her up on the counter so she could see everything that was happening at eye level. About 2 min later her parents came strolling up. I could have totally walked by without batting an eye… I mean.. a crying child in the middle of a crowded area could be anything. Most people nowadays would probably not engage her because they are scared to get involved and fear being yelled at for offering help. I just did what I felt was virtuous and it all worked out. Keep your eyes open… awake, alert, and aware.
Also published on Medium.