Chance Encounters of the Great Kind

What are the odds? During a recent visit to New York City, Barbara and I were standing in line at TKTS to secure tickets for a Broadway show that Saturday evening. With close to an hour wait, we struck up a conversation with a young man in line in front of us. He was a frequent customer of TKTS, knew the process and had the app on his iPhone. He was very generous with his information and his guidance.

As knowledgeable as he was, we assumed he lived in the New York metro area. No, he was from Philadelphia. We shared we were from the Washington DC metro area. Turns out he went to the University of Maryland for his graduate studies. Being a natural interviewer, Barbara asked him what he did in Philadelphia. Turns out he worked for a client of mine. The irony didn't stop there. The women in line behind us also lived in Philadelphia. Six degrees of separation and a sense of community right on the streets of Manhattan, New York City, NY!

What makes a community? It's the connection we have with the people around us, our coworkers, our neighbors, our families, and even people on the streets of New York. Yes, we could have maneuvered our way through the line, strained our necks to see the shows available that night and gotten tickets for a great play. But it was so much easier doing it with help from someone who frequently used the service. And knowing that we shared a connection just made the experience more special. Earlier that day a breakfast, we had conversations and shared condiments with perfect strangers. Securing the butter for toast and ketchup for potatoes from each other was easier than getting the servers attention.

Getting to know people is so important and vital to the health and welfare of our communities. In a recent discussion on leadership, the facilitator spoke of the importance of knowing your team. I'll expand that thought. It's important to know the members of your community. That doesn't mean you pry forintimate details. You don't need to know everything about them and their lives. Some folks are more private than others. Respect their boundaries. At the same time don't be afraid to engage in casual conversations. Engage in dialogue. Listen. We've got some great reports about these topics on our website at

I contrast my experiences on Saturday to my observations in the hotel next morning. People were standing around fixated on their mobile devices and not interacting with another human. Get you head out of "the cloud" I wanted to shout. Get involved with people. You may discover something fascinating. None of us live on an island nor are we isolated.

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