My new friend Joe

You know how sometimes you meet a stranger (on an airplane, for example) and you connect right away and end up telling each other your life stories, even some secrets? It’s okay, because you know you’ll never see them again, so what difference does it make? It’s safe. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does it’s like a burst of energy; an excitement; you learn something new. You leave the scene feeling completely different than before you met them. You think back and say, “Wow. What just happened? That was amazing!”

Here, in these dark days of America, where everyone is keeping to themselves, and hiding behind masks, a joyous connection can be life-changing.

And that’s exactly what happened this morning when I met my new friend Joe outside a coffee shop. But, unlike the chance encounters with seat-mates on an airplane, this felt different. After more than an hour of talking about everything, I felt like we were bff’s. He gave me an alternative and priceless way of thinking about my coaching business. We were having such a great conversation, and we both wanted to continue, and so, exchanged email addresses.

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
— Heraclitus

When an unlikely incident like this enters my life, I pay attention. It’s disarming and unusual. It’s special. I ask myself questions: What does this mean? What am I learning about myself from this person? How will this affect me and my future? What gifts is this person taking away from our conversation? What have they learned from me?

It’s important for us to be open when chance encounters show up in our lives. It’s how we choose to take action that determines the fate of the incident. If you look at these encounters, you will find one nugget, one takeaway that makes you think twice. And if you’re open, it could change part or all of your life’s trajectory; even just one small shift can alter the way you live.

Encounter ⇢ Action ⇢ Result

Sometimes chance encounters aren’t always obvious in a positive way, like meeting a new bff, or accidentally finding the love of your life. They can appear to be negative chance encounters that later, if you take a step back and look at the situation, could reveal positive results.

For instance, someone accidentally bumps into you during your lunch hour, spilling hot coffee on your shirt. Annoyed, you wipe down your shirt and head directly to the nearest shop to replace your shirt with a new one. There, you start talking to a fellow shopper, explaining the coffee incident. She tells you of a similar experience she had, and the two of you laugh.

The moral of this story?

Instead of remaining the victim of a coffee stain, you took charge by replacing the shirt. What also happened was the shift of your anger. You were able to open yourself to someone else’s experience, which ended up lifting your mood and providing a new, positive connection. There might be more that you learned from that incident which you might figure out later while thinking back. The significance doesn’t always appear right away.

I hope that next time you have something odd happen to you, take a look at what you can learn from this experience. Opportunities could open up a whole new direction for you. Like meeting my new friend, Joe.