Give Someone 5

One of the things I love most about running is that for about an hour each day I can step away and exist in my own little world. And it is so simple. I throw on my shoes and headphones and head out the door. No one can bother me or interfere with my time. I can lock out everything and deal with only the thoughts I choose to keep in my head.

While this is an important release for me, and most people need “their time” each day, I think it is important to not fully block yourself out from the rest of the world. In the words of Mike Marriner, “Expand your scope of what the world holds. Rent that independent documentary you usually wouldn’t rent. Talk to that person in the coffee shop you normally wouldn’t talk to. It’s so important to keep your eyes open. How can you find what you’re passionate about when you only see 10 percent of what’s out there?”

If you have read any of my other posts you might be thinking, “Where the hell is he going with this?” Well, I am thinking the same thing as I write. But I guess I am starting here because of something that happened to me a couple weeks ago on a run, the time of the day when I fully close myself off from the world.

It was a pretty typical Thursday evening run, 6 miles. Not a whole lot was different from the 6 miles I did the day before, except that I happened to be in New York and was running through the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. For those of you not familiar with Williamsburg, many residents describe it as “an exclusive area of artists and hipsters.”

When I started the run, I just knew it was not going to be a good one. My legs felt flat and with every step I took my stomach told me to duck into the next pizza place to grab a slice. I continued to struggle through the first 4 miles and then something happened. About 100 feet ahead I noticed a mother and her young daughter walking toward me. The girl, about 4 years old was bopping along, and when we got about 50 feet away she put out her hand. I wondered what she was doing, and then it hit me. She was waiting to give me 5!

At first I was a little unsure of what to do. Should I take a quick left and avoid the whole thing? Should I just pretend I didn’t see her? It amazes me that I had those thoughts, because the answer was simple – stick my hand out and give her 5. And when I did, everything changed. My tired legs and hungry stomach suddenly become unnoticeable. All of a sudden I felt great. That little girl, who I will probably never see again, gave me a spark. She changed my whole perspective. I closed out the final two miles feeling great. And it was all because some little girl gave me 5.

So why did I feel the need to share this story? I think it is because everyday we all encounter times when we can turn someone’s day around if we just keep our eyes open and heads up. Whether that person is a friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger, we often forget how simple gestures can have a huge impact on someone.

  • Mom and dad can give 5 minutes to play catch or dolls with your kids
  • Acquaintances can give 5 simple words “How is your day going?”
  • Strangers can give 5 or a smile to someone passing by

This being said, I am probably one of the worst culprits. With launching Atayne comes a lot of challenges and high levels of stress. It is very easy to get tunnel vision with a focus solely on the company. I often find myself walking down the street unaware of my surroundings. For all I know I could have walked by 100, metaphorical or literal, high 5s. I addressed this briefly in my Waiting for My Real Life to Begin post. Part of the joy of entrepreneurship is enjoying the journey along the way.

This does not just apply to entrepreneurs. Just remember, “Life is a journey, not a destination” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Enjoy the journey one step and one high five at a time. I’d love to hear your high 5 stories – as giver or receiver.

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5 responses to “Give Someone 5

  1. Last summer I told my friend Tim about a quasi-experiment I had conducted, where I smiled at passersby while walking the crowded streets of NYC. And most of the time, I got a smile in return. We discussed whether this might just be a gender thing, so Tim decided to give it a go the next week while he was in London and Chicago. I should not have been surprised when Tim reported he had received “179” return smiles (the former primatologist in him had to keep count!). Who “won” the contest was irrelevant, because the experience left us both uplifted. And I expect we brought a spot of joy into a few peoples’ days. I still try to do this (now as a resident of NYC)–giving a smile and not expecting one in return. When I do get one back, it’s a little gift to me and the rest of NYC.

  2. Hi Jeremy, I enjoyed your blog today. I’ve tried the ‘smile’ thing and it does work! I don’t keep track of how many I get back; I do it on a whim when someone looks down and out…mostly at work. I’ll have to try the high 5 thing…
    Jill :O)

  3. I love this story, and the message out of it. I can remember running along Coastal Highway in Ocean City, MD, a few years ago, when I passed by an older gentleman coming toward me on the sidewalk. He seemed sort of sluggish, detached, grumpy. Seemed. As I got close to him I said, “Good morning, how’s it going?” And he lit up, with the most enthusiastic, “Good Morning!!” and talked a little further, and just seemed to open up all from what seemed just a greeting. Made my day. I try to greet people while running all the time. Thanks for sharing!

  4. As usual, great blog entry. First thing that came to mind after reading it was something that happened over a month ago while running. I was running with my brother in Chicago and we passed an elderly gentleman struggling with a new bed comforter he was carrying home (probably from a bus stop too far from home). My brother and I passed and I thought more than once about not stopping to help (didn’t want to interrupt my run / pace). I mean, most people wouldn’t stop. That said, thankfully, not only did I know stopping to help was the right thing to do but it was also a great opportunity to show my younger brother what being a responsible community member was all about. After carrying his bedding a few blocks to his retirement home, the smile on his face and thanks were more than enough to make my run a success – despite my time. In fact, the smiles from the people sitting out front of the home were amazing as well. I think this was a lot more common ‘back in the good ol’ days’…and we get the rap of being an ‘all about me’ generation. Hopefully we can dispel these notions one good gesture at a time.

    As I continue on my personal journey, living with ‘perspective’ has become more and more important in determining what I do and how I define success and happiness. A cup of perspective along with your morning cup of coffee can change your life. Try it, I dare you.

    Thanks for the blog Jeremy.

  5. Pingback: Reflections and Lessons from Two Years as an Entrepreneur « The Story of a Red Shirt

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