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One of the great shames nowadays is all the different ways we’ve come up with to avoid one magical question that can changes someone’s day, when asked with meaning, intent, and dare I say it, love.
The question I’m referring to is ‘How are you’.
I believe we used to use it with far more empathy and we used to mean it. In our fast paced world and techniques of avoidance – you can’t go too deep with just anyone! – we’ve changed it to phrases like ‘What’s up’… err the sky. ‘Whadda ya know?’ … hmmm “lot’s and not much”. Or worst of all, we actually ask “How are you?” but really don’t care and simply are being polite, the encounter an interruption to a busy day and all that needs doing because my day is all about me!
You see the old fashioned approach was to take time and energy when meeting people to actually ask them ‘how are you’ and then genuinely listen for their reply then connect with them. For me, one of the more beautiful elaborations on this theme actually came from the movie Avatar. There is a tribe called the Na’vi tribe who live on the planet Pandora where the story takes place and their standard greeting when they met was ‘I see you’. It’s far deeper than the words though. It was said with meaning, a gaze filled with intent that emanated from the big emotion filled eyes of the Na’vi. It communicated so much for just three short words, the key component communicated one of understanding. ‘I see you’ really said “I’m stopping and taking time to connect with you, your life, who you are AND I care.”
For me it is surely one of the more magical lines of the movie, said many times, as it also espouses the connectedness and community that existed within this magical tribe who completely understood we truly are all connected and to ‘see’ each other was so important that it had to be recognised in such a powerful ‘standard’ greeting.
I’m not suggesting you go out and start greeting people with “I see you”, you might get arrested! However today, let’s look at ourselves and reinvigorate our “How are you”. The first challenge I have is actually use those words, it asks a commitment from the speaker if nothing else. Then lets learn something that’s very real from the very fictional Na’vi people and when we greet people, let’s communicate all that I believe the Na’vi tried to with their greeting. You never know you might connect with someone, a team member, friend, boss. Maybe even your son, daughter, father, mother, wife or husband who really needed you to stop and care. You might even change someone’s life. That’s what leaders do.
So, how are you?
I was moved to post about this today as I feel leaders are intricately connected with such a message. True leaders don’t hide behind “I’m a big picture kinda guy”, or “That’s too small an issue for me to be bothered with” as an excuse to miss important things for those they lead. They understand the power of intricacy in people’s lives and that they are an interwoven collection of small events.
The thing that moved me was Kirk Weisler’s T4D:
Two bits of magic for me. Almost felt like the crux of the whole thing in terms of ‘living’ life instead of ‘surviving’ it…
“Many of life’s treasures remain hidden from us simply because we never search for them.”
And on the ‘small stuff’, how important it is to recognise how often the ‘small stuff’ is actually the small people in our lives. They want to share what we rate a ‘small’ story about something ‘small’ that happened to them that day, or a ‘small’ picture about something you can’t even make out that seems pretty ‘small’ at the time they bring it. You see the problem is, we are on the wrong side of our eyeballs (thanks to ‘Crucial Conversations for that gem) and for our child, this is the biggest moment of their day, bringing something to Mum or Dad and sharing it with them. The story they are telling is at the deepest core of their being, the thing that happened was huge. The picture was something they put everything they had into and it’s contents depict something immense, the artistry of their soul… and the mistake we can make, we continue with what we were in the middle of and we say “Not now son… I’m busy”. Then later in life we wonder why our children are too busy to talk to us, don’t want to share their lives with us – it’s because we trained them that way. We blink and we miss life, one ‘small moment’ at a time, a million blinks at a time. We never stopped and searched for that magic – bringing it full circle to the first quote.
When the little things present themselves in our lives that seem unimportant, remember to…
… and how often have I failed. Often enough to tell you that I wept as I heard the below on audio the first time in the book I’m currently listening to “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and then the second time as I found a visual of it below.
Please share about how it impacted you in the comments section then reflect, maybe watch it again and with me, spend an extra 60 seconds with those wonderful little ones in our lives today at some point and just hold them, be thankful for them and their gifts and …