One of the most common questions we ask, and are asked, is “What did you do today?” Almost invariably we answer with a laundry list of minor accomplishments: “I washed the car and did the laundry and finished that report I’ve been working on and I finally got a call back from…” and on and on. It answers the question, certainly, but in a literal, if less than meaningful or memorable way. Such an answer gets the small talk out of the way so we can get back to doing more “things”, and to creating and absorbing more noise.
But what if that question and its variations were banned? What if, instead of asking one another, “What did you do today?” we asked, “What did you learn today?” After all, just because we are no longer kids in school doesn’t mean we stop learning, right?
Or maybe the question should be, “Whom did you help today (that you weren’t paid to help)?” Doesn’t that elevate the very notion of being helpful?
And on that same note, what if the question became, “Whom did you sincerely thank today, and what did they do that went beyond what you expected?”
Or what about this one: “Whom did you compliment today?” Or maybe: “How did you take someone by surprise and make them smile today?”
“To whom did you listen, today? That is, to whom did you really and truly listen? Listen not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart. And how did that make them feel?”
Or, “What did you do, today, to make a child feel grown up?” or “What did you do to make a grown-up feel like a kid again?”
Aren’t questions like these just as important as – or more important than – “What did you do today?” But even if that typical, expected question isn’t banned, you can still answer it in an unexpected, but more meaningful way. You can respond that what you did was learn something and help people and thank them and compliment them and hear them. And you can say that when you did those things, you transformed the person, just for a moment, but the moment was enough, because it made their day a little better. And isn’t it true that better days make better lives? And that better lives make better people?
The sad fact is that in business and in life, we follow scripts. They become embedded in our DNA. Society says, “Do this,” or “say that” or “go here,” and these become the narratives that chart our course. We do unto others as we have seen others do thousands of times.
But we nudists are a different lot, aren’t we? We often see the world in a different light, stripped bare of pretense. So, as we approach the new year, aren’t we the right types to shed the expected and start looking at life in a new way?
Consider this to be food for thought (that might be a tad more palatable than Aunt Minerva’s holiday fruitcake). Till next time…may you enjoy health, happiness and continuing success undressed.