All It Takes is One
Our world is made up of wonderful, interesting, and fascinating varieties of individuals, all more similar than different. Many of you who read my blogs or listen to my podcasts, know I believe that we are all more similar than different. So, what does that mean? Well, to me it means, we all have ups and downs, we experience a gamut of emotions, we go through life events that change us or not, we have family dynamics that bring peace, joy, or sorrow, and we face work related drama, successes, failures, and mundaneness. We contemplate, celebrate, and obfuscate. These experiences and emotions live within all of us, with varying levels of intensity. Therefore, with all of us on this planet with so many parallels, wouldn’t it make sense to try to put our best feet forward to generate peace, love, calmness, and happiness? We have this opportunity every day. Whether we are leaders, parents, friends, or neighbors, all it takes is a hello, a kind gesture, a smile. We all have it in us to be that change agent, so let’s help each other get there. This is my experience that got me there.
My neighborhood, a cul-de-sac located in a suburb of Seattle, is the most amazing neighborhood I have ever lived in, but it wasn’t always that way. When my husband and I first moved into the neighborhood, nobody bothered with us or each other it seemed. When I drove into the cul-de-sac and waved at neighbors, there was no wave back or maybe a quick flip of the hand. The energy was dull and unfriendly. As we became more integrated into the community, it did not seem to make much of a difference. Perhaps a more energetic hand wave or a hello here and there, but nothing earth shattering. In full disclosure, I certainly could have made more of an effort as well, but I didn’t. I did wave and say hi first, but that is where it started and ended. I commented at how unfriendly the place was and just accepted it. This behavior on my part was surprising to me, because as a leader and people manager, I am the one who always initiates, strives to affect change, brings positivity to the workplace and to my teams, and creates a culture where there is respect, contentment, and happiness. Why I didn’t embrace my leadership abilities with the neighborhood situation, I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think I was seeing the connection of what I do, to where I live, and frankly, I don’t always like to be the leader. I was waiting to see if someone else would take the lead and they did.
As neighbors moved out and in, the energy started to change. There were more waves, more hellos, and, an occasional curbside stop to talk about the weather or the well-manicured lawns. As the energy shifted, one of the long-term neighbors initiated a summer block party get together. Every neighbor went to the party; everyone brought a dish, a beverage, and conversation flowed. Taking time to get to know their names, their stories, and sharing about myself, was rewarding; it fed the human need of belonging. This first block party was the catalyst that started to transform the neighborhood. With every little step, from each of us, came more reward. When someone makes the first move, it’s as if it gives us permission to make our own first move.
Today, there is a strong feeling of home and community among the neighbors. We watch out for each other, break bread and share cups with each other, and enjoy a bon fire or two throughout the seasons. Outside movie nights and Halloween street parties welcome all, and those block parties are going strong. Despite this pandemic, gatherings are always socially distanced, with all donning masks. My neighborhood is the definition of a friendly, lively, warm, and happy community. All it took was one to reach out and start the movement.
To initiate change is not always easy, because we put ourselves in vulnerable positions to get rejected, subjected to cool receptions, or get accepted. It is a gamble. I consider myself a social person, but I can be a bit shy at times, so sometimes I am not the first person to reach out. In my work, I must put that shyness on the back burner and step up, that’s my job, but in my personal life, I have seen myself hold back, but I have improved in this area and keep working on it. When someone does make the effort to reach out, I am more than open to reciprocate, begin a dialogue, because I never know where it will take me.
So, when I say all it takes is one, it is one to affect change or one to create chaos. It is one to open a door or one to close it. One to reach out a hand and one to accept it. One to instill confidence or one to perpetuate fear. My neighborhood and all my wonderful neighbors have taught me that strangers can become friends, I can rely on others, and that knowing each other, even just a little, makes for a better community, just like in the workplace. Now, let’s take what we know, take a small gamble, and start changing the dynamic from all it takes is ONE to all it takes is each and every ONE of us.
Disclaimer: the advice in this blog is meant to provide guidance and be thought provoking. It is the writer’s opinion only.