the stories within

the past five days or so have been quite a journey for me for a variety of reasons. i had the opportunity to attend "the global leadership summit" on thursday and friday of last week. i heard pastors, businessmen, and authors speak on many different topics all pertaining to aspects of leadership.

the summit gave me so much to think about, i can't even describe it all to you. by the end of the two days i had questioned much, thought about even more, and pushed back on some things i thought before.

i heard from guys like tony dungy, daniel pink, jim collins, jack welch, andy stanley, jeff manion, and my personal favorite - blake mycoskie. all of these guys gave me a lot to process and think about. jeff manion talked about "the land between" - the times when we (metaphorically) wander through the sinai desert and have no idea what God is doing, or why. the biggest point that stuck with me from his talk was this: God chose the israelites as his people before they wandered in the desert, but it took the desert to actually MAKE them his people. the land between is a prime place for transformational growth, but it's also often where faith goes to die.

i can't tell you how much i needed to hear that right then.

as much as jeff's talk really met me where i was, blake was still my favorite. blake mycoskie is the "chief shoe giver" and founder of TOMS shoes. it was awesome to hear him talk about the history of TOMS and the different stories he has witnessed as he has flown around the world to give children shoes. more than any other talk blake's got me excited to go out and DO. do something. give back. change the world.

frankly, various ideas from the leadership summit have caused me to question how long i will stay in my current vocation. much goes into a decision like that, and i'm nowhere near done thinking about it, or processing everything. but i am wondering. i am questioning. i am digging deeper.

my "digging deeper" led me to look through a book that i only had the chance to glance at before. it's HIS book, and has the same name as the blog. and it is amazing. seriously. i follow the blog regularly because i love his composition, and the way he truly captures PEOPLE. his lens permeates the outer layer, and gets to the heart of the person. and in my book, those are the best kinds of photographs - the ones that tell a story.

[stick with me 'cause we're still moving...]

the above book, in conjunction with a conversation with my hubby about those questions which burst into my head at the leadership summit resulted in me thinking about the stories of people. people's stories.

i was reminded of this: the more we understand the more understanding we are.

most of us have probably known someone, or identified with someone who was going through a really hard time. if you know the person who is going through a hard time, and know that they are in fact, in the middle of a rough patch, you're more likely to be forgiving of his/her attitude, mistakes, etc.

however, how many people do you pass on the street every day who are fighting a battle? and yet we generally attribute those things that i listed above to the person - we see them as personal attributes - rather than attribute them to the situation. in psychological terms this is called the "fundamental attribution error" or f.a.e.

i read the following quote as a teenager, and it has stuck with me every since -- "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle."

that guy who cut you off in traffic may be rushing to the hospital to try to beat death and say goodbye to a loved one.

the woman who was rude to you in the grocery store may be wondering how in the world she can actually afford food to feed her entire family.

the co-worker who snapped at you may be worried about the condition of his marriage.

the point is, we know a lot about what is going on in the lives of very few people. most people we interact with over the course of our day are acquaintances at best.

what would happen if we knew their stories? what if we were kind without even knowing their stories?

when you hear someone's story it makes them more human to you - more real to you.
but we're all human. we're all real.

all this story talk reminds me of a guy we met in new york. after our dinner in manhattan we decided to walk to and through grand central station to take the subway back to brooklyn.

we brought some leftovers with us despite the fact that it was our last night, because we wanted to be able to give it to someone who needed it.

our only real opportunity to do so came as we were walking in the doors of grand central station.

there was a guy holding the door into the station. in his right hand was the handle of the door. in his left he held a paper cup.

he had a hat on, a tattered shirt and a pair of old grungy pants. when one of our girls offered him food his response was this -- he'd only take as much as we saw fit to give. he was thankful and grateful for every noodle.

as sweet of a moment as it was i wish i could have heard his story. heard more about who he was and where he was from. people like him become invisible after a while. people blow by accepting the door he holds open for them, and ignoring the man behind the hand.

what would it take to see each person as an actual person?

be kind, for everyone you meet
is fighting a harder battle.


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