Lessons from a Homeless Man

Yesterday as I was leaving the swanky part of town and headed back to my side of the highway, a very nicely dressed black man was patrolling the boulevard. He had on the brightest blue pants I think I have ever seen and was wearing a terrific hat. He had a church offering wicker basket in hand and looked like he couldn't be happier. I thought at first that this gentleman must be raising money for a local church or a city charity. When he approached my window I rolled it down and wished him good morning. He said, "I'm homeless and quite hungry, could you spare a dollar." The song in his voice matched the brightness of his pants and made me smile. I had just spent my last bit of cash on breakfast and was left with only plastic. He replied, "How about just a penny?" I opened up my arm console and found 56 cents of which I gave it all to him. He wished me the happiest of days and did a little jig as he moved onto the next car before the light turned green.Most homeless people that I have seen on this exact same intersection look dejected, ragged, and are playing the pity card to the nth degree. Their signs tell you they there story and there is no "going concern" presented. They sit there day after day for as long as they can until the cops make them move and some how eek out an existence. But not this guy. This guy knew why he was there and was committed to be the best homeless beggar he could be. Here is what I took away from my interaction with him: - He presented himself well from a distance - He didn't let you stereo type him from first appearances - He was making the best out of the situation he found himself in - He smiled - He intentionally asked for a specific result - He didn't take "NO" for an answer - He considered the interaction a win and made me feel the same way On any given day I interaction with 50-100 different people, most of which I haven't known longer than a few moments when I start asking them to make a decision. Much of my livelihood depends on making a favorable first impression, whether in person or on the phone, and then following that up with a deliverable that inspires my new connection to let me move forward. Whenever I ask for a specific outcome, I can measure the success of that ASK by the results and know whether I need to ask again. "No" usually just means that I didn't ask the question correctly. Burning bridges helps no one. Everyday we have the opportunity to learn and to get better. Every chance we miss to do so is a chance to become a better version of ourselves and ask others to do the same. This world is too big to think that the interactions and conversations with those we are most comfortable with are truly enough to sustain growth. If new ideas and experiences are consistently added to the mix the mix becomes routine and bland and so does life.