Hello, Stranger ...
Can you find the gem of potential in this super-small act?
Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. – Susan Sontag
I am fascinated by the power of connections.
Especially the ones that haven’t happened yet.
Standing in the coffeehouse line, people with their heads down gazing into their phones, it felt like this: like a huge, golden question mark spinning tantalizingly high above my un-caffeinated head.
Who is this stranger in line behind me?
And then I think, “And what would I find out if I just did the unthinkable …
… and said hello?”
These thoughts constantly fill (maybe haunt?) my mind.
I vacillate back and forth between my uber-large sense of wonder … and my constant aversion to embarrassment and failure.
Who knows what happens when we take the courageous leap and speak to a stranger?
How about - this week - we find out?
“Even the smallest human interactions that fall outside our comfort zone can rattle us, and as I snuck a glance ahead of me (at an older man in a blue puffer jacket and an orange cap) and behind me (at a woman in a long, dark coat with a hospital name badge clipped to its lapel), I felt the rattle.
Yep, exactly what I wanted.
“Hello, I’m Scott,” I said to the woman. “I’m a participant in the Scare Your Soul courage movement, and today I’m challenging myself to buy a cup of coffee for a stranger. So . . . would it be OK if I bought you a coffee?”
I was greeted with a smile.
“Hell yes, you can!”
Her name was Marcia, and she and I talked for the next five minutes as we waited for our coffees.
She told me about her new grandchild (named Summer), her plans for the weekend (working in her yard if it got warm enough or visiting a friend if it didn’t), and what she did professionally (she was a nurse in the OB-GYN practice at a local hospital).
“So, what’s your favorite part of your job?” I asked her.
“Helping to bring those beautiful babies into this world,” Marcia said without hesitation.
She took her coffee with half-and-half. She told me that this experience had absolutely made her day. The barista behind the counter, overhearing our conversation, said the same and joyously comped the coffees.
Others in line smiled.
Marcia gave me a hug.
As I got in my car later, I felt like I had been jump-started by some kind of strange electrical current. I felt brave (odd, given such a small act) and generous (bizarre, given that I hadn’t even paid a penny).
I immediately called a few of our new Scare Your Soul ambassadors to tell them about my experience, and they jumped at the chance to do it, too.
For the rest of the day, I received updates of people buying coffee for others around the world. I saw the ripples of impact.
I saw the gem of a larger potential.
The key, I would come to learn, was that taking risks to further human connection is a powerful and liberating act.
We humans are social animals, and it can sometimes take a brave act—an outstretched hand, an open ear—to really achieve connection.”
— from Scare Your Soul: 7 Powerful Principles to Harness Fear and Lead Your Most Courageous Life
This Week’s Scare Your Soul Challenge: Engage in “Coffee and Conversation”
This week, I invite you to dare yourself to explore the art of connection in a totally novel way.
Visit a restaurant or coffee shop and, with a hint of bravery and abandon, offer to buy a stranger a coffee or tea.
It's a chance to meet someone new and experience the world together, even if just for a few moments.
Be bold, and extend the invite.
If they don’t accept, no problem—find another opportunity during the day.
If they do, don’t forget to engage in meaningful dialogue by asking curious questions and sharing something about yourself.
Celebrate yourself for reaching beyond your comfort zone. Afterward, take a few moments to write down your reflections, and consider what you learned before, during, and after the coffee challenge.
What One Soulster Is Up To: Meet Darby!
“So far, 2023 is off to a scary and exhilarating start for me.
In the span of one month, I scared my soul in more ways than I think I ever have!
I interviewed for, and was offered my dream job. I gave notice to my current employer where I've been for 10 years. I negotiated 6 weeks off between jobs, during which I will travel for the first time to Vietnam to visit my sister.
And, on a smaller scale, I signed up for a bourbon-tasting night as the only woman in a group of 12.
To top off January's excitement, I started February by participating in a "vision boarding" event where I crafted my word of the year, which I've decided is "CHANGE."
Thanks to Scott's book, I'm realizing that scaring my soul is making me feel more alive than I have in a long time!”