I do not mind my own business.
Nope, not at all.
Let me explain…
I like to know what my neighbors are up to. If I see a contractor’s truck in their driveway you can bet I’m going to ask about it the next time I see them. Why? Because I love real estate, home improvements, and everything HGTV produces. I like to hear about the projects other households have taken on. In the end, what I’m really looking for is a referral, because if they’ve had a great experience, I’d like to be able to add that contractor to my roster of future vendors. A responsive contractor who does quality work is rare these days. There’s no harm in asking, and some good can come from the conversation. My neighbor gets to gush about their project, and how excited they are, and it could lead to more work for that local contractor who’s been struggling with supply chain delays and workforce shortages.
Also, while talking to a neighbor at the pool, who I know works in HR for a large restaurant group in the area, I gave them detailed accounts of my last few experiences at their dining establishments, remembering servers’ names, etc. Their face lit up because they personally trained those individuals. Based on my testimonial of having had a great experience in their care, they excitedly told me that they were going to reward those team members with gift cards or bonus pay. My remarks were going to impact someone else in a positive way because I didn’t keep those details to myself. Not only did it make my neighbor’s day, but they get to make their employees feel appreciated, as well.
While at Busch Gardens with family recently, my extroverted personality was on full display as I started noticing all the special groups who were also visiting the park. As young adults flooded past us wearing JMU t-shirts, I continued to shout, “Go Dukes!” very exuberantly, much to my daughter’s chagrin. There were a few funny looks, but most (who knew the drill), shouted back my way with a greeting of shared school spirit. These exchanges caused my daughter to cower behind my cousins who had no idea what was going on. Other instances included watching Girl Scout troops pass by with custom shirts that I really admired. I would then make eye contact with the troop leader and say, “Yay, Girl Scouts…love those shirts!” Why do I do this, you ask? Why do I bother these passersby with my unsolicited greetings? I use it as practice for being in front of larger audiences. The rejection or side-eye I may receive from these interactions helps to build up my resiliency. I don’t know these people; therefore, their rejection isn’t as harmful as it would feel coming from a small group of executives, or an auditorium filled with industry colleagues. I gain confidence every time I speak to strangers. I can change up my approach, modify my opening line, and adjust my pitch as the day goes along. It’s similar to A/B testing a subject line for an e-blast, but in live in-person interactions.
Recently, a call for nominations was announced seeking the names of influential members of an organization that I’m a part of. Nominations could come from any active member, but in the leadership role that I held at the time, I took it upon myself to make sure our organization nominated members who deserved to be recognized. I put together a list of nominees and shared it with our executive board, added their suggested names to the list, and wrote up descriptions of important contributions for each person. I submitted those nominations and crossed my fingers, simply hoping that something would resonate with the selection committee. Something definitely drew their attention because five of our nominees were selected and have now been recognized on all three of the global Top 50 lists that were published. It has not only brightened their days, but also elevated our chapter’s profile within a global audience, generated positive feedback amongst members and colleagues, and given the winners something that they can add to their profiles and resumés as social proof that they are indeed professionals with recognized work and dedication to their industry. Had I minded my own business and deleted that initial email, the ripple effect of positivity that was generated may not have ever come to be. It saddens me to think of how many other opportunities like that have slipped by because we were too busy to take the time to recognize our members and volunteers for their hard work.
Additional examples of me not minding my business come in the form of seeing something that’s a bit off and taking corrective action:
If I see an overworked drive-thru employee let out a long sigh as they hand over my debit card, I’m going to tell them that they’re doing a great job.
If I see litter on a playground, along the river, or in a parking lot, and I can safely remove it, I will.
If I see a young woman walking alone in a parking lot at night, I’m going to keep an eye on her until she’s in her car and safely on her way.
If I see a car swerving on the interstate, I’m going to call it in.
If I see a tired mom in the grocery store line who seriously needs a nap and a shower, I'm going to nod and smile at her.
If I see someone with a little swagger in their step, in a nice dress, wearing cute shoes, or in a pretty hat, I'm going to tell them that they look great.
When I drop my kids’ friends off after a playdate, I'm going to lay eyes on at least one parent before I drive away.
If I walk into a restaurant, venue, or retail store and there’s a table, chair, or clothing rack that’s too close to the only exit I’m most likely going to move that obstruction out of the way. I’m also going to respectfully speak with the manager about why that was important to do with grace and sincerity in my tone.
If I see a kid running around a pool, I’m going to ask them to walk.
If I see teenagers diving into the ocean near a sandbar, I’m going to talk with the lifeguard or directly with the kids about why that’s a deadly idea.
If I see something, I'm going to say something because I actually give a damn!
I care about public safety, I care about how I make people feel, I care about putting joy into the world, I care about recognizing great service, I care about giving referrals and connecting businesses to services that they need, and I care about a lot of things that other people don't seem to care about, or maybe they simply don't see the world as I do.
My hope is that one day I will be in the right place at the right time when my neighbor’s kid falls off their bike and needs a reassuring hand on their back and a bandage from my first aid kit. My hope is that I know their name, and their parent’s names, and that they will feel comforted and patched up and back to riding in no time. Can we get back to doing more of this?
My extraverted energy may be too much for some, I know it is for my daughter who thinks I’m very cringy, but I’m okay with not being everyone’s cup of tea. My people are out there...in the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A, admiring my JMU license plates and yelling to their teammate to tell me, "Go Dukes!"
I’m comfortable in my own skin – being my authentic self, serving those who I deem worthy of my time, and hanging out with people who don’t mind me getting all up in their business.