I am an Optimist. Saturday night was a big night for Omaha-area Optimists. We had our largest community fundraiser, the Summer Bash for Childhood Cancer. It is an amazing event, and our club sponsored a table. But I wasn’t there. I had the opportunity to go to a concert with some friends, and it was a terrific night. I had some mixed emotions though. I knew the Summer Bash was going to be amazing. The table was full of fun people with whom I really enjoy spending time. I know I would have enjoyed seeing the fruits of our labor and celebrating the work of the last year with my fellow Optimists. I also knew though that I would have a great time at the concert. I needed to get my head right before the evening started.
Life is full of moments like this. We make one choice over another. We camp instead of flying somewhere in our downtime. We miss a chance to have lunch with people because we’ve already committed to a meeting. We choose to spend our summer vacation with family instead of taking that cruise with friends. It’s just not possible to be in two places at once.
So how do we honor the moment? How do we appreciate each event, each meeting, each person in a way that makes the most of our time and theirs?
Think for a second about the people in your life you enjoy the most, the people who make you feel the happiest. I am going to guess that there is something powerful that each of those people have in common. I am going to guess that each of those people make you feel special. I bet when you sit down to have a meal with those people, they ask about your life and they really listen to what you say. I bet when you are meeting with those people, you feel like the topic at hand is the most important thing they’ve dealt with all day. I bet you feel like you matter to them.
Those people know something that not everyone has figured out. They live their lives in a way that not everyone does. They take each and every opportunity to focus on the person right in front of them. They are not concerned with the meeting that’s coming up, the lunch that they are missing, or the event that they chose to miss. They are fully engaged in the moment, and they are fully engaged with the person right in front of them.
A friend shared some advice he’s been given about how to interact with people in meetings. It really resonated with me. For you, that is but one of many meetings you’ll have that day. But for that person, it is the only meeting they’ll have with you that day. When they leave it, how will you have made them feel?
In education, this is unbelievably important. The building secretary signs many people into the school each day, but each of those people is only welcomed into the school once. A teacher interacts with many students each day, but each of those students may only interact with the teacher once that day. The principal deals with many parents and staff members throughout the day, but each of those people may only deal with the principal once.
How do you want people to remember that interaction?
I am writing this as much for myself as anyone else this week. I am blessed with an amazing job full of meetings and opportunities to work with students, parents, and staff. I am blessed with family and friends who genuinely want to spend time with me. Am I staying fully engaged in the moment? Am I staying fully engaged with the person right in front of me? Not as often as I should be, but you can bet I’m trying to get better about this!