Living in the Washington D.C. area, I encounter thousands of strangers every week from all over the world.
At the bus stop. On the bus. In and around the Pentagon. On the sidewalk in our neighborhood. In stores. At church. If I so chose, they could change my life forever.
I believe the people who say that over time we will be the same people we are today except for the people we meet and the books we read. But taking it a step farther, it’s not just the meeting that changes us. It’s how we manage the intersection. It’s what we do after meeting that changes us for the better or worse.
My choosing to comment on my friend Chris LoCurto’s blog has changed me because of the content I read and the relationships I’ve built with other commenters. It’s also deepened my relationship with Chris. Insight and friendships are things I value.
Just recently, I was speaking with a fellow morning bus rider. He’s starting graduate school. In the conversation I told him one of the best things students can do the first day of class is introduce themselves to the professor after class. Why? Because most students don’t. Those who do distinguish themselves and immediately build rapport with the leader of the class. This is, as speaker and professor Joe Martin says, one of the tricks of the grade. Sharing personal-growth information is something I value.
My wife and I reminisced over dinner Sunday night about when we started dating. The fact she’s my wife is a testament to how we both managed that intersection. Going on a date, rather than just “going to dinner,” is typical of how we continue to deliberately manage our intersection – the most important one in our lives.
How we choose to manage intersections with others will shape who we are forever. Like the books we choose to read to learn from, we can select people for the same reason – to be changed. To further our lives and enrich them. At the same time, the people we surround ourselves with can also be our downfall.
Have you ever thought about why your spouse is your spouse? Why do you choose to interact with some co-workers and not with others? Have you ever thought about why that stranger later became your best friend?
More than likely the answer is because these people change you in a way you want to be changed.
Now fast forward 2, 10, 20, 5o years. Who will be there with you? What does life look like then?
Are the people in your life today contributing to where you want to be tomorrow?