You can have a positive, enduring impact on another human being today. And it’s simpler than you may think.
A few years ago, I was offered a complimentary 2-hour coaching session by my good friend, Jason Goldberg (aka JG). I prepared – as he’d encouraged me to – by writing down areas where I felt I might have blind spots or self-imposed limitations.
That day, July 8, 2015, is a day I’ll never forget.
Because of the insights I gained in that one conversation, I experienced a profound shift in my attitudes and beliefs about myself and my world. I have not been the same since.
JG is truly an unforgettable figure in my life. Even if we were to never have another conversation (which is certainly not the case), I’d carry him in my mind and heart accompanied by a deep sense of gratitude.
So what exactly did he do in our phone call to have that kind of enduring influence?
These two stand out:
1. He was fully present and listened powerfully.
JG was there just for me. He had no distractions or pre-conceived ideas about what I would say or what the solutions might be.
What was most meaningful for me – and allowed me to become vulnerable and open to his coaching – was the genuine curiosity and caring that he brought to the conversation. There was no judgment or criticism.
2 – He asked questions and made observations that no one had brought up to me before.
JG had the courage to suggest an underlying theme that was present in all the concerns I brought up – that perhaps my biggest issue was taking things too seriously. Perhaps I might consider taking a more playful approach to these situations.
At first I resisted.
I’m sure that’s because I am a serious person at heart, and therefore my belief was…that’s the way I’m supposed to be.
After all, these were serious topics we were discussing!
As I started pondering his words, I realized that he was absolutely right.
My tendency was to adopt a grave, somber frame of mind as I thought about these situations as PROBLEMS. That mindset often led to negative emotions like worry and self-doubt.
If I could adopt a more light-heartened attitude and view it all as a GAME or OPPORTUNITY that I might actually have FUN with, I could stay relaxed and calm, leading to clearer thinking and better decisions.
At the end of our call, I had a new nickname that JG has used ever since when he addresses me in emails or messages on social media: Playful Meredith or just PM.
It reminds me of who I aspire to be, even if I’m not feeling very playful at a given moment. I have a choice to adopt that way of being whenever I sense that I’m taking a specific situation too seriously.
The Take-Away for YOU
You don’t have to be a professional coach in order to have a lasting impact on another person.
If you simply repeat to yourself the quote in the image above – and then keep it in mind before each conversation you have – you’ll discover what it feels like to truly be of service to someone else.
The beauty of this approach is that you can relax and have fun because you’re not trying to impress the other person. Your focus is simply to SERVE them, and that means you focus on learning about them. You stay curious and engaged, giving them your undivided attention.
That in itself is a gift these days, with so many people getting easily distracted by other items in their view.
I find it’s a fantastic approach to take with new connections on LinkedIn. When we have our initial conversation, I ask questions, listen and say very little about myself or my products. Instead, when I speak, it’s to offer ideas or resources that might be helpful to them, based on what I’ve learned.
This is an amazing way to build trust quickly because so few people operate this way. Most only listen long enough to get their turn to talk – or they dominate the conversation and have no awareness that they’ve excluded the other person.
What would happen if you ask yourself each morning:
How can I serve profoundly today?
What in your world – and inside yourself – would be different if you carried that question in your head every day for the next 30 days?