Everyone loves to say things happen for a reason. It’s a phrase that helps soften the blow of bad events. If someone utters these words, you know you’ve met an optimist or a historian.
While they may not be an actual historian, I bet they are reflecting back on past events. When I look back on my life I can see clear forks in the road. For me, every negative event led to many positive ones.
I got rejected at Northwestern, but accepted to Vanderbilt. That led to great friendships, a life changing first job, a wife and family. I interviewed at Microsoft, twice, and got turned down both times. That rejection led to some amazing roles and a life here in Austin.
When I think back to these events, there is one common thread, people. Someone had a role in each of these events.
Since I’m an optimist, I’ll focus on the positives. Countless people have touched my life and guided me. In some cases I saw it, in others I was blind to it.
Somehow the right people show up when I need them the most. All I have to do is be open to it.
Knowing this, you’d think I’d work to cultivate as many relationships as possible. The reality is that this has never been a natural talent. Growing up I was more content to be the shy kid in the corner.
Over time I started to come out of my shell and be more outgoing. But, being less shy doesn’t always translate to relationships. For me, I have to work at this.
There are people that are naturals. It seems like they have thousands of friendships and connect with new people with ease. It’s amazes me every time I come across it.
Regardless of my natural ability, I keep at it because my life expands with the people I meet.
Over the years I’ve had to travel quite a bit. Every time I got on a plane, it was a chance to meet someone new. Being elbow-to-elbow for hours on end should lead to countless conversations. For me, my preference was to focus on a book or do some work. On a few occasions I opted to say hello to my row mate.
One time I met a retired General. He was on his way to convince legislators, we should us the nuclear power plants from submarines on land. These self-contained power generators can’t melt down and live in a small 6×6 foot box. They don’t need maintenance and create clean energy for fifty years. It was a fascinating conversation and I loved every minute.
Of all the plane friends I made, one stands above the rest. I’d been working for months to figure out the perfect spot for an anniversary trip. As I was looking at information on Aruba, the guy next to me leans over and asks where I’m heading.
This leads to some small talk about the reason for the trip and the options we’ve explored. The next thing I know this guy is rattling off destination after destination. He goes into detail about each place and then offers to introduce me to a friend at any one of the spots I like.
At this point I’m confused. Why is this guy trying to help a complete stranger?
I change the subject and ask “So, what do you do for a living?” He said, “I connect great people to other great people.” I’m thinking, “Ummm. OK.” So I press on, “So, what does that mean exactly?” He says “I’m the guy you call when you don’t know who to call.” Now I’m thinking he is some sort of super hero.
I kept digging and kept getting the same types of answers. All I knew for sure is that he was genuine in wanting to help. I couldn’t figure out why, but I went with it. Because of his help we settled on a spot in Costa Rica and had an unforgettable time.
His name is Trevor Durham. He is an amazing guy and one of the most unique people I’ve ever met. His ability to focus on another person, in this case a complete stranger, is a real gift. 
But, he doesn’t just meet people, he builds a life around it. When you look at it from the outside, it’s hard to figure out. One thing is certain, he is a real inspiration. 
In life, contentment always seems to set in. As Isaac Newton said in his law of motion, objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
I’ve always felt content with the friendships I have. Then one day someone new will enter my life and it’s better because of them.
There are thousands of people I’ve yet to meet and they will change my life for the better. Allowing this to happen is up to me. I need to put myself out there and when all else fails, say “hello.”
This post is part of a series of letters to my kids. My goal is to reflect on and capture as many life lessons as possible. Here is the current list I am working from.