For 14 years now I’ve been obsessed with a single thought. It’s a question really. A question I’ve asked a million times. And it took flying all the way to Africa to even realize it was bothering me. The question is – Why is a charitable donation so disengaging? There are other words I could
74 Toonies down. 291 more to go. Since this is almost exactly 1/5th of the way in I thought I’d pause and reflect on some of the deeper (and lighter) things I’ve learned thus far:
- 35 years old and under is the sweet spot. I had a solid run of yes’s for people under 35 until yesterday. I approached a young man likely mid-20’s and got my first 35-and-under-rejection. But it was quickly followed up by a mother and her 18 or 19 year old son who said yes. Still, if you’re younger you seem to get it, like it and want to be a part of it. You Millennials and Gen Y-ers are good people.
- People trust me more when I’m with my son. When Jackson’s at my side I’m batting 1000%. Not sure exactly why this is – but people seem more willing to be part of this when he’s around. A few days ago we were in a crowded restaurant and I let him look around and pick anyone he wanted in the whole place. He of course acted like this was the most important task ever and after looking over the room for an eternity, he eventually pointed to someone a few tables over. So we got up together and went over… and what do you know… another yes and a great conversation with a stranger.
- The toonie giveaway has appeal cross-culturally. I unknowingly approached a couple visiting from Austria and after having to explain in a little more detail than normal, they both smiled and held out their hand for the coin. They seemed to get it and were quite happy to take part.
- Personally speaking, this is becoming easier to do as I go along, but I still find breaking the ice with a stranger something very unexpected and surprising for others. People just don’t expect a stranger to speak up and make conversation. Usually, the first few seconds is filled with the other person coming to realize that I really am talking to them.
- If you don’t talk much to strangers, here’s something you might find interesting – there are awesome people all around us. It’s true! When you take the time to say hi and speak up it’s amazing the kind of people you meet and the stories they have. Like the COO of a large hospital in the area, or the ice cream scooper kid who came all the way around the counter with a big smile to pose for a picture.
- One way I see this already starting to change me is that even after handing out the toonie for the day, I am much more vocal and inclusive with strangers. I’m looking at people a little differently. We’re all real people with good stories to share and something to offer.
- Last but not least – it doesn’t take much to put a smile on someone’s face. We really don’t have to do something drastic to leave an impression. A smile and a quick comment from someone receiving the toonie is like gold for me. And for those I talk to, it seems as though a stranger who stops to do something unexpected for them, like say hi and hand over a coin with no strings attached, actually means something.
Moral of the story? Don’t wait to step out of your comfort zone until the ‘time is right’. Don’t wait until you feel like you finally have something to give before you give to something. Don’t get stuck with your head down avoiding opportunities to simply say hello. You’ll miss a whole bunch of great people. Winston Churchill once said,
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
What’s something you’ll give today? “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” What’s something you’ll give today?