I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. Growing up, I was never much of a people person. I was very shy. Painfully shy. Even after divorcing my first husband at the tender age of 25, I was still very shy. I moved into a gated apartment complex and I really hated leaving with someone in their car. Why? Because it would require me to stop at the entrance and tell the guard who I was.
This was just with strangers. You can ask anyone who really knew me back then and they will tell you that I was talkative, engaging, and fun. But with people I didn’t know I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact, and would probably faint dead away if spoken too.
Something happened along the way. I’m not sure where. But somewhere in the last 25 years, I began to lift my head and see what was going on around me. I looked people, strangers, straight in the eye and smiled. They smiled back, most of the time. I asked questions. I found my voice.
Now I find that I will insert myself into other people’s conversations. Complete strangers. Recently I was having breakfast with my mom at Cracker Barrel and I overheard a couple talking about their plans for the day. They were visiting Fort Worth and trying to decide what they should do next. They asked the waiter. He seemed to be caught off guard and didn’t offer any real suggestions. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then got up and walked over to their table. I said “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but hear you asking about what there is to do in Fort Worth.” Then we proceeded to have a very nice conversation about the Stockyards. You can’t come to Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards. There is major road construction going on I-35. They weren’t too hip on traversing that route again. So I told them how to get there the back way from where we were.
Now see, 30 years ago I would have loved to offer my advice. But I wouldn’t have. I would have convinced myself that they didn’t need to hear from me. That they didn’t want to hear from me.
I hear conversations going on around me all the time. I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, even at work, I keep my door shut. This is to not only cut out the outer room noise so that I can focus on what I’m doing, but it is also to keep me out of things going on.
When I stop and think about it, who I am now amazes me. What I’ve realized is, I’m a problem solver. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. But I think that’s my gift, problem solver.
I think I have great ideas. The problem is, people rarely listen to me when they should. Ha! Ha! You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Example #1 – I had a friend who lived in a small town. She wanted to open up a catering business and maybe a bakery. She’s a great cook! But, in my opinion, she was thinking too big. She talked about renting a building, buying equipment, etc. My suggestion was to start small. Start from her kitchen. Each day come up with a menu of a couple of sandwiches or box lunches. Call local business and find out if they would like to have the menu faxed or emailed to them each day. She could send it either the day before or early the morning of. If people were interested, they would fax their order to her. Since it was a small town, she could offer free delivery. This would enable her to build a clientele before actually making a big up front investment. She didn’t see what I saw.
Example #2 – I had a friend who loved to bake cookies and cup cakes. She was really good at it too. She used only the best ingredients. The first mistake she made was calling the city to find out what she needed to do to open a bakery. Of course they gave her a long list of permits and requirements. She was crushed. We had a long conversation, in which I basically presented the same ideas as Example #1. But she didn’t see what I saw.
Example #3 – I have a young friend who has tried unsuccessfully to launch a homemade soap business. She has made soaps for me and they were lovely. She was a single mom and I knew that there were durable supplies that she needed in order to make and promote her soaps on a larger scale. She seemed to want to go from hobby soap maker to side income soap maker. We talked about farmers markets and different craft fairs. But in order to do those things, you have to have product. So I invested in her dream. I gave her some money hoping that she would buy the molds and things that she needed. She continued to make small batches of custom soaps. So, she didn’t see what I saw.
But those were their dreams. So they didn’t need to see what I saw. They only needed to see what they see. They shared their dreams with me and I had a visualization of their dream. But apparently what I visualized was not what they visualized. And that’s ok. Sometimes, people just like to talk out loud and that’s fine too. I’m happy that they were comfortable enough to share their dreams with me.
Now, I am chasing my own dream. Four months ago I didn’t even know it was my dream. I’ll share my dream with you tomorrow.