Among group-texted pictures of smiling cartoon turkeys wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, I had friends asking each other, “What are you thankful for?” One person said, friends and family. Another said, our mentors and teachers. Others said, people we work with.
I thought we should be thankful to be alive. Two weeks ago, an uncle passed away from cancer. Just seven days later, a friend died from cancer too. But it wasn’t because they died that I was glad to be alive. I was grateful because their deaths made me realize everything that I had lost, from chances to catch up with family to chances to seize important moments.
If you believe in something, pursue it, but never forget your greater purpose.
When I first got the news about their deaths, the first thing that went through my mind were the last conversations I had with each of them. With my uncle, the last time we spoke, I suggested a way to deal with cancer. It was our first phone call in years, and the reason I’d dialed his number was I’d heard he’d gotten cancer. I wanted to help.
His voice was barely above a whisper, so lacking in energy, that I became keen on saving him. I’d heard how supplementation could prolong his life by 50%. I was like a pesky salesperson, hoping to persuade him to see my point of view. He didn’t. We signed off after an hour of product talk. At the time, I hadn’t known that would be our final phone call. I just remember how tired he sounded.
I look back now and wonder if I’d put more effort into educating him about supplementation, then he would still be here today. I’d made a goal to help save people, yet I’d given up so easily when he showed no interest.
I was grateful, however, that I’d had the chance to try and help him. But I was sad that I was so intent on helping him that I didn’t even try to understand what he was going through in his last year. I didn’t even spend our last phone call talking to him like a niece to an uncle, which was my regret. I’d been so keen on selling him a solution. It wasn’t until the funeral that I learned what he was like as a husband and a father. I’d lost the chance to get to know him when I still could.
If you have goals, there is never the perfect time to execute them.
My friend died from cancer a week after my uncle passed away. I hadn’t been around for her in the last few months of her life. I’d been too busy with work and family emergencies. I told myself, when things settled down, when work wasn’t so busy, I would see how my friend was doing. She had been fighting cancer for two years, and three months ago, she’d outlived the expectations of her doctor who said her time was up. She’d always had a strength and love for life, so I thought she would continue the fight.
I was still waiting for details about my uncle’s funeral when I got the news that my friend had passed away. My first thought was, I’d waited too long. Life doesn’t stop for anything or anyone. Even if you have family members in the hospital and a family member that has died, it doesn’t mean people stop dying and you earned yourself a break. Tragedy will still strike without mercy.
I went through old photos of my friend and replayed conversations in my head. She had loved to talk and tell stories. There is a photo of her on stage, holding a microphone and singing. That hope for one last time together was just a hope, not a reality because I’d procrastinated.
So be grateful for what moments you have together with friends and family. But most importantly, you must never wait. There is no perfect time to tell someone you are thinking about them, or ask an old friend out for lunch. Time won’t cut you a break because you’re struggling with your own challenges, and give you the chance to catch up with someone when “things settle down.”
Thankful for friends and family that show us that life is worth living.
The passing of my uncle and my friend brought people together. I hadn’t seen my cousins in several years. I barely recognized my aunt. I think I should have been giving them my condolences when I saw them. Instead, we were introducing ourselves to each other like we were strangers struggling to attach familiar names to unfamiliar faces.
After the funeral, we chatted with each other and shared pictures that we had on our smartphones. We were hungry for updates on cousins we hadn’t seen in years, so an uncle shared photos of his travels to other countries where our relatives resided. We asked what our relatives did for a living, and where we all lived now. We exchanged numbers and took an updated family photo with all of us in our somber black and gray attire. Most importantly, we wished we could meet again in happier circumstances. Time slips away so easily.
I’ve read some stats from 2016 that said 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. I already know two. Their suffering awakened a new realization in me, about how easy it is to get washed up in the trials of everyday living, so that we forget to reach out to others until it’s too late. I believe my uncle and my friend are out there somewhere, celebrating like two marathon runners at the end of their journey. And I believe that they’re proud to have brought together their family and friends so that we can realize how thankful we are to have each other.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying a wealthy business owner, and when I got older, I dreamed of becoming a successful business owner, but teachers and family had other plans for me. They wanted me to attend university and have a career as a doctor or dentist. Helping people and changing lives appealed to me, but being around sick people or staring at teeth all day did not. When I finally decided to step out of the box and become an entrepreneur, I discovered all my years of schooling weren’t enough to fulfill my dream.
Employee vs entrepreneur
School taught me how to be an excellent employee. I went from obeying the teacher to obeying the boss, from taking six classes a day to working set hours. I performed according to expectations and job requirements, and challenged myself to leave my comfort zone when it meant a pay raise or getting fired. Having a job and a career were great – I really enjoyed my writing career after I graduated from university. However, it didn’t bring me any closer to fulfilling my dream.
Now that I have my own business, I’ve realized that there are entrepreneurship skills that school doesn’t teach you that are relevant no matter what career you choose for yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Henry Ford, were not known for having a shining academic performance.
Students who are well behaved, complete their homework, and perform well on tests are praised by their teachers. Students like Branson who struggled with dyslexia, or who found schoolwork boring, or generally didn’t fit the good student stereotype, were given assistance so they could fit closer to this stereotype. A friend who failed in school because it didn’t challenge him now owns two flourishing side businesses. Perhaps, in addition to the current school curriculum, children should be taught entrepreneurship from an early age. Entrepreneur wannabees would benefit from these skills, but students seeking careers would benefit also.
Leadership and communication
Two of the most important entrepreneurship skills are leadership and communication. Children who lead by example and communicate effectively are known for their charisma and optimism. Peers are drawn to their ability to make decisions and have a clear vision of their objectives, such as making teams and establishing rules for a game. They are able to convince others why building a sandcastle would be a fun activity.
These leaders are the type of friend who will listen to your problems and show understanding, or offer advice if needed. I remember a popular girl in my grade three class. Everyone liked her. She was always smiling, and when you spoke to her, it seemed like you were the only person in the world.
I have never heard anyone say that they admire their bossy supervisor. But I’ve heard how much people admire leaders who get their hands dirty and treat their coworkers as part of a team of equals. That’s similar to a child who makes the extra effort to make the new student feel welcome, and encourages classmates to do the same.
An example of how leadership can inspire others is acclaimed speaker and author Adora Svitak. She advocated kids to take action about academic and environmental concerns and has also spoken for causes such as feminism and literacy. Her Ted Talk “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” has received more than 4 million views and established her as a prodigy by the age of 12.
The ability to sell yourself
Not everyone likes to sell, or become a salesperson, but everyone should learn how to sell to be successful in life. Before the age of 18, children have done various jobs, from opening a lemonade stand to paper routes, to mowing lawns, to baby sitting. It’s a way to experience bookkeeping as you track sales, as well as selling your wares and skills to customers. If you know what you’re good at, there is a way to sell it.
Moziah Bridges was 11 when he started to sell his bow tie creations on Etsy. He had learned to sew from his grandmother. He’s made more than $600,000 in sales and continues to grow his business with a seven figure deal with the NBA to make bow ties for 30 professional basketball teams.
Evan of EvanTube reviews toys and covers topics that interest other kids his age through the use of video recordings. He makes more than one million per year with his brand, and he’s not even ten years old.
Having the ability to sell can start at a young age, and be just as valuable when you’re an adult. If you can convince someone that you have what it takes to do a job, you will ace a job interview. If you can show someone that you have the personality and qualities that he or she is looking for, you will do well on a first date.
Teaching children about entrepreneurship includes teaching them about how to weather financial difficulties. If they would like money to buy a new outfit or video game, they will be unafraid to speak with neighbours, friends, and family members to make some cash by shovelling snow, painting a fence, or selling a toy collection they no longer want. We can also teach children to see opportunities instead of problems. For example, if they receive an allowance, they may be seeing only the problem if they have only $100 in allowance money and the toy they want to buy is $130.
The creator of Nay Games, 14-year old Robert Nay, learned how to code through research at the public library. He programmed “Bubble Ball,” which received more than one million downloads. Nay Games now has games to help students with spelling and physics-based puzzles. Nay saw an opportunity, and followed through with it.
Learning problem solving
Children who learn about entrepreneurship also learn problem solving. They learn more than how to operate technology such as their iphone or tablet to play games or message friends when their homework is done. They learn to find solutions to their problems by tacking the situation head on.
In the case of Cory Nieves, a six year old boy became the owner of his own business after he decided he was tired of taking the bus to school. He wanted to buy a car instead because it was too cold. He sold hot cocoa, and later branched out to selling lemonade and cookies to achieve his dream and save up for college. In 2014, when he was ten years old, he was making sales of a thousand cookies a weekend.
Busy vs productive
Time management is a valuable skill when you own your own business. You learn to be productive, instead of just busy. Children who are adept at time management accomplish more, and efficiently. Instead of taking two hours to finish a homework assignment with plenty of breaks, they can finish it in one hour and have time for other tasks.
Business mentor and coach Cameron Herold has spoken in favour of having parents and teachers encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. At a Ted Talk in Edmonton, Alberta, he speaks about how he was bored and failing in school because teachers did not identify entrepreneurial traits as worth encouraging. For example, at the age of seven, he was able to sell coat hangers at a higher price than originally expected, but negotiation was not a skill that he was taught.
Stories of successful kid entrepreneurs all echo a similar theme to Herold’s story: Child entrepreneurs who didn’t pay attention in school but became thriving business owners. Young teenagers who were told to set aside their business ventures until they were older, but instead continued to pursue their dream until they reached their goal or surpassed it.
My earliest brush with entrepreneurship was in grade five. One day, we were asked to bring some belongings we no longer wanted and place them on our desks at school. We walked around the class and looked for things we wanted to barter for, using our own items. A classmate had a pair of three inch tall glass boots I liked. I asked her what she wanted from my desk in exchange. Sadly, what she wanted was only worth one boot – she didn’t like the other items I had for exchange. To this day, I only have one glass boot in my display case, a reminder of my early attempts at commerce.
If you have a say in the education of a child, consider how entrepreneurship can provide them with opportunities to succeed as adults, whether they choose to have a job or own a business. One lesson that successful kid entrepreneurs have taught us is that we should never limit what we want to accomplish.
Think of what you associate with the people in your life: from your coworker’s tendency to use “totally” in almost every sentence to your best friend’s preference to buy almost everything in pink. These associations are what people think of when they hear a person’s name or a company name, and these connections are what makes up a person’s image or brand. Walt Disney, Madonna, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs are famous people who have built brand associations with their names. Even if you don’t plan to become famous or own a business, you should know that branding yourself has become important now more than ever.
Why care about your brand or image?
It only takes seconds for someone to make a lasting first impression with a stranger.
That’s right: a first impression is hard to change. A quick glance on the internet will show several entries on how to overcome a bad first impression, as well as multiple entries on how to make a lasting, killer first impression. It’s clear that people have had their share of bad experiences, from a horrible first date to a failed job interview – experiences that they would not care to repeat again. These search results also show that a first impression can stick like a shadow, and there are people who are very concerned about how others perceive them. This brings us to the question: is there anything you can do to maximize your chances of giving a lasting, great first impression?
Psychological scientists conducted studies to find out just how lasting a first impression can be. In a study of about 200 participants, people were asked to judge whether a coworker had improved or worsened in her behaviour. Over a period of several weeks, this coworker started off with a neutral first impression, and then attempted to make a bad impression with behaviours such as cutting in line and gossiping. She also attempted to make a good impression with behaviours such as opening the door for others and making compliments. The researchers found that it didn’t take long for participants to believe that their coworker had become a bad person, but it took much longer for participants to believe that their coworker had become a better person. Similar studies in other scenarios such as social dining yielded similar results: it was easier for people to think that a person has turned bad than changed into someone good.
The Harvard Business Review says that, “The reason people don’t often change their initial impressions is that our brain is optimized to conserve energy; if there’s not a compelling reason to re-evaluate something, then we won’t.” If you want to change someone’s initial impression of you, then you will need a bold strategy, such as surprising them or overcompensating over time with a forceful change in behaviour.
The next time you go to an interview, or meet a new friend, think about how you want to brand yourself. What image do you want to present to this person? What do you want them to think about you? Establishing yourself in a positive light by behaving well will give you a good start. But remember: You will only have ONE first chance.
Your appearance can affect your value.
People will form a first impression based on how you talk, act, and behave. They will also form an opinion of you based on your appearance. Just how important are your looks? Studies on appearance and income show a correlation between the two. So when you groom yourself, or choose clothes for the day, think about what statement you are making about your personal image. Are you successful or average? Social or introverted? An athlete or couch potato?
Studies have shown that traits that you cannot control, such as your height, and traits that you can control, such as your posture, all have an effect on your value. For example, in a poll of half of the Fortune 500 companies, they found that on average, their male CEOs were just under 6-feet tall, or 3 inches taller than the average man. This complements a study that six-foot tall males make $5,525 more than five-foot-five males. Similarly, for a study on women’s height, they found taller females earn five to eight percent more for every extra three inches of height that they have over their average-height counterparts.
These studies suggest that investing in high-heeled shoes can help your increase your salary. However, it’s difficult to add an extra foot to your height if you’re very short. Other ways to raise your value is to carefully choose how you dress. True, your attire should be a personal choice, but the opinion of others can influence your ability to get ahead.
Dressing professionally and conservatively can help you to appear as a leader if you want the role. Being well-dressed produces self-confidence, and can help to advance your career, according to Harvard Business Review. Women have an additional element to consider: women who wear make-up are seen as more professional, according to 64 percent of directors in a survey reported in The Times.
Even the way you carry yourself affects how others see you, so consider the message you are sending with your posture. Sitting in a power position, such as legs up on your desk and leaning forward, will make you look powerful and in charge to others, according to a Harvard Business School study. Those who took on power poses were more likely to take risks while those who didn’t take on power poses were more risk averse. Think about the implications of poses if you’re trying to negotiate a promotion to management at work, or if you’re trying to convince your spouse about a vacation destination.
Your appearance affects your salary, how people perceive your ability to lead or be taken seriously, and how people judge your decision making.What value would you want to associate with yourself? Are you the manager whose decisions are trusted by your superiors and your team? Are you the friend who is frequently responsible for booking group vacations and keeping a tally on who has paid? What characteristics describe you?
Establishing a personal brand is not easy. First, you need to make a solid first impression. Then you need to maintain it by the way you dress and behave. All of these factors put together become another person’s image of who you are as a person. This branding doesn’t stop with in-person relationships. Your branding online matters as well.
Social media has become a prevalent way for people to get to know you.
You may be applying for a new job. Or just “friended” someone on Facebook. Or written a restaurant review. You might not be on social media at all. All of these examples have a profound effect on how people perceive you, so the following facts are worthy of a serious read.
According to Statista, one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, about 2.95 billion people (one third of the world’s population) are expected to be involved in social networking worldwide by 2020. In Canada alone, internet users visiting social networking sites as of January 2017 is 63% of the country’s population. That’s more than one out of every two people! The number is as high as 99% of the population for the United Arab Emirates. Somewhere in those statistics includes potential clients and employers, which means you aren’t the only one surfing the internet during office hours.
Global recruitment company Careerbuilder says that 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to learn more about a potential hire’s qualifications for a job. They want to find out more about a candidate’s online professional portfolio and persona, as well as what people are saying about this person online. Forty-one percent of employers (in 2016) say they are less likely to hire a candidate if they cannot find information about that individual online.
Even if you aren’t looking for a job, or your relationships with your clients are strong enough that social media won’t affect a business deal, you should consider the impact of social media on your personal life. As of April 2017, Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide (according to Statista).
Who you choose as your friends on Facebook, the pictures you post, what posts you like, and which posts you are tagged in are all part of your image. Picture yourself looking at Facebook profiles right now. What conclusions do you draw about a person who has three Facebook friends? How about 5000 Facebook friends?
Now have a look at some photos. One of your Facebook friends has posted several pictures of vacations, family gatherings, and various dogs. What do these photos tell you about this person?
Now have a look at the photos of another Facebook friend, someone you just met last week. This friend has photos of people drinking alcohol, links to political news articles, and short jokes. This friend has tagged you in a photo of last week’s house party. Your other Facebook friends can see this tagged photo of you. Would you like to be associated with this person who has tagged you? How will this photo affect your personal brand?
With the prevalence of social media today, your reputation can precede you.A prospective employer may have scanned your LinkedIn profile prior to your job interview. A casual acquaintance from your volleyball league can learn about your experiences as a volunteer from your Facebook photos.
Even if you avoid technology, your reputation can still precede you.When you told your customer you weren’t going to give him a refund, he wrote a review online which was shared on Twitter and Facebook. The tweet on Twitter was shared 15 times and the post on Facebook was liked 18 times and generated 7 comments. One of those comments advised people not to visit your store. More alarming still, that Facebook post appeared in the news feed of someone who was planning to visit your store for the first time.
These social media statistics clearly indicate that your online presence is part of your brand. The world has become a much smaller place, and your new next door neighbour may already have an opinion of you: she’s Facebook friends with your sister’s husband.
Why care about your brand?
You might not be famous. You might not be a business owner. But people will have associations with your name when they meet you for the first time, or even before they’ve met you. If you’re maintaining a relationship, they will also have ideas about the type of person you are, and these opinions are not easy to change.
The question to pose, thus, is: Who are you, and what do you stand for?
The molting process of humans is something not often discussed. By this, I mean the figurative shedding of our own skin and our old personalities as we become someone new. All of us change in order to survive. Each day, we learn lessons that influence who we are. Gradually, we evolve so that we make the progress we need to achieve our dreams.
They say our skin regenerates every 27 days. The overall effect is we look pretty much the same to anyone who interacts with us on a daily basis. But for someone who hasn’t seen us for months, or years, we have more wrinkles, dark spots, or sagging in our skin. Graying in our hair. And that’s just the visible differences. It’s the changes in personality and beliefs that are harder to spot.
Every day, we change in small ways
Someone who used to be a best friend a decade ago would say I like to eat fast food because of my busy schedule. I’m a writer who went from my work office desk straight to my home office desk to keep up with my writing schedule. Over the years, I remained as dedicated to my work, but health became a larger priority so my friend would be surprised that I eat healthy now. I’m still a writer, but I have increased obligations to family.
Sometimes it’s better to forget old grudges
I’m not the only one evolving over time. Your old enemy and untrustworthy friend is too. That person you hold a grudge against in high school, or the person that you don’t think belongs in your social circle simply because you don’t have common interests. I think we should keep an open mind that these people change and we should give them a second chance if we cross paths with them again. But do it with caution of course. In ten or twenty years, a person can change for the better, but also for worse.
You need to evolve to stay with your friends
People who stay friends over the decades need to evolve as well. A person changes their perspective on life as they grow from teenager to adult. A friend who was single a decade ago is getting used to being a dad, so evening hang outs have turned into quick visits in child-friendly environments. When I changed from employee to entrepreneur, another friend and I clashed in our work and financial values but we’ve learned to respect each other and stay best of friends.
I look at photos and see that I look similar. But the skin I used to have back then has been replaced. What I feared back then is not what I fear now. What I loved back then is not what I love now. Yes, I still like ice cream. I just don’t devour it in large quantities like I used to. It is very easy to think of time as moving forward while you remain static. However, I ask that you look at the people you’ve known for more than three years in a new light. Pretend it’s your first time meeting them. What do you see?
People tend to fear change because it suggests becoming uncomfortable. It suggests more work as you learn to adapt. And it suggests you’ll be left out if you don’t go along with it by adapting to the changes in your lifestyle, to the changes in the people around you. I say embrace both the nostaglia and the unknown. Be the leader that inspires others to be a better person and lead others to change with you.
I’ve always had some level of anxiety when dealing with conflict. Maybe you do too. I don’t relish being the centre of attention, especially that kind of attention. If there is some productive way to handle my adversaries, then I’m all for it, whether it is in my professional or personal life. Fortunately, a recent adventure in outdoor paintball gave me some valuable tips about how to deal with opponents.
If you haven’t played outdoor paintball before, it’s a series of game zones in a large, enclosed area. Each game zone has a different theme, such as Prison Break (where you negotiate your way around some buses and cars, D-Day landing (where you locate and defeat the enemy in their bunker), and Speedball (where you are protecting fuel reserves from terrorists). Your friends work as a team to battle against another team of people who have showed up to play at the same time. Some zones require more cooperation between team members than others. Oh, and you shoot the other guys using a gun loaded with colourful paint balls. The way I decided to defeat our opponent (the other team) was using the following tips.
Tip 1: Network and learn about your adversary
After arriving at the paintball location and signing a waiver, I had to get my gear on. I knew the event organizer, as well as some of the others in our party of about fifteen. I asked people in the group about how to put on the gear – some of the apparatus was intuitive, while other bits were not. Those who had played the game before had some useful advice for me while we got to know each other at base camp prior to the start of the game.
By talking to people, I learned more about the players themselves. The ones who were confident, with paintball canisters strapped and ready for quick access (like they intended to take a lot of shots), were likely to be the ones attacking the opponent. The people who said they’d never played before and were anxious for the game to start, were likely to be more on the defensive. I exchanged names with some team members I hadn’t met before: whether they’d played before, how they knew the organizer, and what sports they played when they weren’t shooting paint. The people we were playing against looked like seasoned players. No one seemed to be wondering which way a piece of equipment was supposed to be put on. That had me worried about my lifespan once I entered a game zone.
Tip 2: Make yourself some allies
I already knew what my strengths and weaknesses were for games like these: I can duck and cover, but I’m not good at shooting moving targets. Still, my video game fantasies kicked in, my imagined military skills fluttering through my mind as I hid behind a tree. Ideally, I would dart out at the opportune moment to shoot and take down the enemy one by one while under heavy fire. They would be too slow to catch me as I flew through the obstacle course to the target zone in enemy territory.
How it really played out though, was I used the camouflage of a tree. Chatting with people before the game gave me a chance to find the fearless snipers, the risk takers, and the reluctant players. I formed a kinship with one of the reluctant players. Her goal was simply to try out the games and see how she did. Our strategy was to shoot the enemy from a safe hideout and keep an eye out for each other’s backs. Having her as an ally doubled my chances of survival. I felt safe knowing she and I were in the same boat. Until she disappeared behind another tree when an opponent came close, and then I found myself surrounded by shrubbery and quite alone.
Tip 3: Share strengths to defeat the rival
My strength, as I’ve said before, is in hiding and observing. It’s not a strategy I’m proud of. Dealing with your adversaries through passive rebellion is not at all heroic. There is too much dependence on others – the ones recognized as the stars of the team. These allies of mine were the ones who took the big risks and charged, fully exposed on all sides, into enemy territory. They were the ones who claimed victory for the team, such as capturing the enemy flag.
I helped by advancing when they advanced and taking on defense. When the fearless team members launched themselves deep into enemy territory, I followed and hid behind a wall or tree trunk where I could fire at others with minimum risk to my own safety and provided them with cover fire. I also helped by donating paintballs from my supply to the risk takers. They ran out of paintballs at twice the speed that I did. My very conservative contribution benefited the team.
Tip 4: Let your opponent see your human side
It was in the last game zone, while my team was cornered and being slaughtered, that I realized I needed tip 4. In paintball, once you are hit, you must walk out of the active game area to show that you are no longer playing. That area is marked with a ribbon that shows the boundary of the game zone. After I was hit, I and other teammates stood along the ribbon, unable to go further because there were dense shrubs behind us. We started a lineup.
Eventually the opponent team fought their way to our side of the playing field and started to shoot at us, even though we had our hands up and we weren’t firing our guns. I lay on the ground to be as small as possible but even there I was hit about seven times. It felt more of a zombie hunting game at that point, since the enemy insisted that we could come back from the dead and were fair game.
Which brings me to the next point, that when you deal with your adversary, it helps to humanize yourself. It is harder to bring down an opponent when you can see yourself in their shoes and feel what they feel. To the other team, we were just targets in masks and soldier’s gear. They couldn’t feel the relentless pain of being zapped by paintballs, of getting the bitter, medicinal tasting paint in your mouth while soaking in the heat of padded clothing. Worst of all, I still had a working paintball gun which I wasn’t firing because I was playing by the rules. At that point, the game ceased to be fun until the referee realized what was happening and rescued us by drilling the rules into the opponents’ ears: do not shoot players when they are out of the game!
Tip 5: Separate small goals from large goals
When the game ended, I was a lot more colourful than when I’d started. I didn’t make it through all of the game zones because it was just too exhausting to run around in three thick layers of clothes in warm weather. I managed to survive at least half the zones by setting small goals for myself, such as crawling to a tree while under fire, and making it from one game zone to the next. The main goal, to make it through to last game zone, I did not achieve, but many of the team didn’t either. Most were just too drenched in their own sweat. I concluded none of us would make it as true military personnel.
The most important lesson I got from the game was working together as a team to defeat a common opponent. When you have allies protecting you and supporting you, you will be a lot harder to defeat. Definitely I wouldn’t have survived as long as a team of one. This lesson was one that I could apply to a work situation or even in my personal life.
That was probably the point of the game: for all to have fun and experience an adventure with your teammates.
“The simple act of holding someone’s gaze … has the power to ignite or deepen a relationship.”
I’ve had my heart stolen by a man I barely knew – we had spent no more than three hours over six months talking about impersonal things – and yet, when I said goodbye that day and was walking out the door, I turned to see him gazing at me. That look was so intense, his eyes locked on mine like he wanted to kiss me, that I wanted to forget about leaving and just go back and throw my arms around him although we were near strangers.
Eye contact is captivating.
This contact is what humanizes and strengthens connections. I was once mesmerized by the incessant gaze of a seagull as it watched me watch it. I moved around in the room; the seagull paced back and forth outside on the window ledge, its eyes never leaving mine. By the time it flew away, the moment we shared was unforgettable.
It doesn’t matter whose eyes are engaging ours, whether human or animal, alive or pictorial. The contact is a way of sending a message. Researchers at Cornell University did a study on the significance of eye contact using the Trix cartoon rabbit by changing the gaze of the rabbit shown on different cereal boxes. The box that a panel of adults chose most frequently was the one with the rabbit looking directly at them, instead of away.
Eye contact makes you memorable.
The body language of the eyes can be powerful enough to make a person fall in love. A gaze can stop a person from walking out the door. Eye contact can make a moment unforgettable.
We’ve heard the saying, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” People are more likely to believe someone is being honest when eye contact is made. We think that when we look into someone’s eyes, we can peer into their true intentions. For this reason, holding eye contact during a conversation or a presentation makes your words more memorable. The next time you are giving an important talk, hold someone’s gaze, then look away, or make a sudden hand gesture. Your words at that moment will become more solidified in that person’s mind.
Eye contact can reveal the truth.
When we hold someone’s gaze, we feel that we can prevent them from deceiving us if they seem a bit shady in character. The truth, however, is that liars are better at holding eye contact than those who tell the truth, perhaps because they are aware that we think a gaze will reveal a person’s true intentions. In fact, we are better able to interpret a person’s intentions from their body language than we think.
A study on a person’s ability to read body language from the expression in their eyes only (the rest of the face was covered), revealed that men could interpret the mental state of the person 76% of the time, while women could guess the state 88% of the time. But it’s not known how we are able to deduce our conclusions from eye contact.
Eyes need to roam to gather information.
Most of us aren’t aware that we also get our information at a subconscious level. When we see someone new from a distance, our eyes go to the face, then the body, and then back to the face. The exchange of glances helps us assess how interesting we think the other person may be. The glimpse of the body tells us the sex of the person we are approaching.
Women are able to gather this information more discretely close up because of their peripheral vision. Men have tunnel vision, so it is more noticeable when they are trying to check out someone from head to toe from close up.
After a meeting, we also check out the rear view of the person as they leave. In a study of job interviews, researchers found that both men and women checked out the physical details of job interview candidates as they entered the room and when they left. Women tended to be more judgmental of the candidates’ clothes and overall appearance. Both sexes needed to give the candidates a complete once-over at the start of the interview. This is a fact to keep in mind if candidates are trying to maintain eye contact the moment they enter the room – it makes the checking out process difficult for the interviewer.
Eyes send a clear message.
Whether or not you are thinking about the message your eyes are sending out, you should be aware that you are always transmitting something. When you hold eye contact, you are showing interest. If you are checking someone out, even subconsciously, you could be creating an awkward situation, especially if the other person is politely trying to hold a gaze. Your emotions are spelled out in your eyes, and people can read your message with over 75% accuracy. Eyes are indeed the windows into your innermost thoughts. So, hold eye contact, be confident, and be memorable!
I’ve heard many say that it’s hard to meet people in Vancouver. Newcomers think that locals hang out with their local friends and don’t open up their social circles. Singles go online to meet hook ups, potential dates, or future spouses. People in the same office building exchange polite hellos and smiles without knowing the barest details of each other’s lives. With these habits, how does one break through these barriers to make a new friend in person? Too often it seems people become suspicious when a complete stranger wants to know more than directions to a landmark. Approach someone you don’t know to ask him or her random questions about favourite hobbies and restaurants and you’re likely to get something ranging from a strange look to questioning from police.
People don’t socialize with strangers
Busy people are everywhere. If there is a long lineup at the coffee shop, we take out our smartphones to check our friends’ status on Facebook, text a friend about weekend plans, reach the next level on a game app, or screen work emails while we stand around. There we are, multi-tasking our social and professional lives, considering ourselves efficient in our use of time. I can’t recall when someone turned to a stranger to say something other than, wow, this lineup is long.
We connect with people at events
We open ourselves up to meeting new friends only when we attend an activity or event where socializing is part of the event. For example, at a birthday party, my friend introduces me to her friend who is finally back after six years in Europe and now she’s in the same career as me so she and I should talk. Or, I join a swimming class and one of the ladies lives a block away so we decide to carpool and perhaps have dinner after class since we’re pretty much neighbours.
People have noticed that meeting people through some haphazard coincidence is unlikely. To address this situation, lifestyle coaches and other professionals hold workshops about how to meet people in Vancouver. Yes, they teach you how to do this type of social interaction.
We learn how to connect at workshops
I think it’s ironic to sit with a table of strangers and open a conversation with, “Hello! You’re having trouble meeting people too? This problem we both have has finally connected us.”
Apparently, people are so afraid about how a stranger would react if you tried talking with them out of the blue that they’re likely to let the moment pass. So even if you think the woman at the table next to yours might be interesting to get to know as a friend, you will keep your thoughts to yourself and not say anything in case she calls you a freak.
For others, it was a lack of social skills that brought them to the workshop. The presenter taught us how to look a stranger in the eye, begin, and maintain a conversation. We had to be taught these things, because apparently it’s a skill we lack.
I spoke with a few people after the workshop finished about why they were there. They wanted to connect with others, network, and learn how they could increase their circle of friends. Most of them were single and trying to avoid meeting potential dates online. Some still believe in organically starting a relationship.
Generally, I found it easy to meet and chat with people at a How to Meet People event. I exchanged phone numbers with some ladies after a quick chat about interests and what activities we could attend together the next time we met.
Some people don’t feel the need to connect
What surprised me were the people who attended the social event and made their escape as soon as the workshop was over. I had so many questions about their purpose in attending that evening.
Did they have to run because they accidentally ate some chili peppers? Or did they simply want something to pass a couple of hours in their day? Were they learning how to connect with people so they could practice the skill on someone else? Most importantly, did they think the people from that evening were not worth connecting to? I guess I’ll never know because I didn’t speak with them.
Finding chances to connect with others
My biggest takeaway from the workshop experience was that only the brave ones are willing to ask a random person if they are enjoying the sunshine, or if they would like to join them at their table and have a chat over coffee. Trying to make friends with the person sitting next to you on the bus seems almost taboo. Perhaps our culture has to change. Perhaps people need to be friendlier. Or maybe making a new friend each day is too ambitious or unnecessary a goal for most of us. What do you think?