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First Impressions

I’ll tell you a little story here. One that is an example of a lesson I seem to have to learn over, and over, and over again.

First the story

There was this guy who showed up years ago at an un-conference. He was a legend in his own mind, and he let us all know that. In short, he was an ego driven jerk. Shortly after that, I noticed he was copying the work of someone I respected and posting it as his own original thoughts on twitter. Yuck. So not cool.

Flash forward 2 years, when I was asked by his agent to have him as guest on the podcast I was running at that time. I said no. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, even though he was a “rising star” in the business. I was sure he was still a jerk and I didn’t give him a chance.

Flash forward to this year, when I saw him at an event. He was talking with some friends and showed strong signs of humility and kindness and I was able to take a breath and see him as a person, and a very smart person indeed. How sad that it took me almost 10 years to see this.

Nobody’s perfeckt

It’s kind of obvious, I see that now. Everyone has good days and bad days. Everyone does unconscious things they regret. It’s easy (lazy) to make assumptions based on chance encounters or observed mistakes, but we have to remember that we too make mistakes. We don’t expect lifetime judgments to be based on one of our own foolish mistakes, do we?

What to do?

Bring an acquaintance to mind. It may be someone you’ve known for some time, or someone you met in passing. Make a list of the qualities of that person, as best you can. Consider those qualities; what are your impressions of them? Which of them do you know to be true? Which are based on the opinions of others? Are they based on old data?

We often forget that people change over time. When we talk to this person again with an open heart and an open mind, we may discover that our assumptions are totally untrue now. We find them to be quite different than we expect.

Just like us

People grow and change constantly, it’s a never-ending part of the life process. If we think someone fits nicely in a box and we leave them there, we are limiting ourselves and them too.

My challenge

So today my challenge to you is this. Think of one person you know, and reevaluate that relationship and your understanding of who that person is. Approach this exercise with an open, curious mind, to find out who they are NOW.

With practice, we can teach ourselves to be open to whomever that person is showing up as today, and to know that change is inevitable.

Wouldn’t we love someone to do that for us?