Some lessons you see… others you taste, smell, touch or (over)hear. In the last two weeks, all five of my senses got a little exercise.
Make the coffee at 7pm, especially if it’s hazelnut.
Tonight I made myself a cup of decaf hazelnut coffee to take with me to a presentation I was giving. I figured it might be too late for them to have coffee so I brought my own. And when it finished brewing I smiled. It was a gift from my team at my last job, a box of K cups in my favorite flavor, hazelnut. Brewing my to-go cup reminded me of them and they way they made me laugh, and how different they were individually and yet made this perfect puzzle when you fit them all together. They were one of the highlights of my career, and a sense of smell can do that. It can transport you back to a memory you’re thankful you have, even if the moment has passed.
When you have bad beer, use it to cook brats.
This is my replacement for the overused, “if life gives you lemons make lemonade” analogy. When life gives you bad beer? Cook brats. Brats > Lemonade.
If you’re going to make a mark, make it a good one.
I work in a beautiful building that is vintage, antique and very well taken care of with love and detail by our building manager Terry. He appreciates the history and the architecture of the building and is its caretaker. I looked up from my phone and saw that someone defaced the elevator. Not just any elevator, but the one that has been in the building since 1902. I was sad and angry and texted it to Terry, knowing he needed to know and that it would also ruin his day.
I want you to make your mark on the world, but that’s not how you do it. You don’t make your mark by destroying someone or something else. If you’re going to make a mark, make it a good one. Improve the world you encounter.
Take the stairs. Yes, to the 6th floor.
Yes, even if you’re carrying stuff, and wearing a winter jacket. Yes, even if it’s hard, your thighs are burning and you’re huffing and puffing… because if it’s hard then you need to be doing this more often. You’re out of shape. Keep taking the stairs Jessica, until you’re no longer winded.
Find your Warren.
If you’ve ever given a public presentation, occasionally it will be someone’s responsibility to introduce you. They will typically read a bio, and you hope they pronounce your name properly. But sometimes what you hear is a bit different. Sometimes its more personal and authentic. Tonight I got to hear someone I’ve known and respected since I was a college student, introduce me. He has been, for most of my adult life, one of my most consistent and biggest cheerleaders. His name is Warren. He helped me when I was looking for internships. He helped me prepare my resume and for interviews. But since I’ve been in the working world he has encouraged me, checked on me, and invited me back to the university. To share my experience. To mentor students. He kept me connected from a position of mutual respect and admiration. We all need that. We need people to believe in us when we’re still figuring “us” out. We need people to be a consistent voice of encouragement and praise.
I want to encourage you to look for your Warren, to pay attention, and to say yes when they call. Your “yes” to them, can become the biggest blessing in your life if you let it.
But I also want to encourage you to be a Warren to someone else. In the Bible we hear a lot about the apostle Paul, but don’t miss something Paul was doing. He was mentoring and encouraging Timothy (the books of the bible called 1 and 2 Timothy are letters from Paul to Timothy). He was pouring into his life and encouraging him. (Even through letters when he was in prison.) So there is no excuse. You and I have the opportunity to be the encouraging voice in someone’s life. A child. A student. A colleague. A friend. A parent. A volunteer.
When you hear someone give you a compliment, don’t brush it off, don’t let it pass. Say thank you and remember it. The person who said it gave you a gift. Receive it with gratitude. And pay it forward. Be the one who gives compliments, who lifts up, who encourages, who asks for their opinion and listens to it. Do this regularly with intention. That’s how you can impact the world, one person at a time.
Not all of us have been given the gift of all five senses.
But of the senses you have been given, choose to categorize them as gifts… as opportunities to appreciate the world and the people around you.
And realize you can help others see them as gifts, too by the things you choose to share with them (just don’t share bad beer, unless you also give the gift of brats).