I was out running on the trails near Denver one warm and sunny Saturday morning. I was feeling good, both physically and mentally. As I looked down the path ahead of me, I noticed another runner coming toward me. As he came upon me, I looked into his eyes and acknowledged him with a nod (a common gesture among runners), but the man ignored me. He passed with a scowl on his face.
I wondered why people seem to be less and less friendly these days. Isn’t returning an acknowledgment the polite thing to do? I mean, really, how much effort does it take to at least nod back? I thought.
As I ran, I continued to think about the man with the scowl. After a few minutes, I concluded that I’ll only disappoint myself if I keep expecting something in return when I initiate a greeting with a passing runner. In fact, why even waste my time?
Moments later, I spotted another runner coming toward me on the path. Still bugged from the unfriendliness of the last one, I decided to keep my eyes toward the ground, avoiding any kind of greeting with her. Then, just as our paths crossed, I heard a very friendly “Hi” and caught a welcoming smile as she passed by me. I called out a belated “Hi,” but she was already too far away to hear it.
Just then it hit me. I had allowed the first runner to dictate my attitude toward the next one. I had allowed my friendliness to be conditional! Yikes! That’s not the person I want to be.
I then asked myself if I could simply acknowledge other runners without expecting something in return? Could I just be friendly because that is who I am—period?
The answer was a resounding YES!
Being authentic is what I’m all about. That means being true to myself and showing up that way, regardless of how others may or may not react.
Such a simple example. Such a profound reminder.
* This story is from Geese’s book, It’s All About Me.