Monday, March 10, 2008

Alone In a Crowd

Do you ever feel alone in a crowd? I know that I sure do. In going to some SXSW Interactive Conference festivities yesterday, I know that found myself feeling lost in a sea of people and I was the odd man out having forgot my "fitting in" life vest. But then I remembered, I knew how to swim without it.

I literally had to remind myself that a new connection is likely never to be made unless I personally do something about it. That meant that I knew I needed to consciously pull myself out of my naturally introverted shell and make an effort. Otherwise the sea of people, the crashing waves of conversation and the turbulent energy of all the goings on around me would leave me stranded on the beach of "loneliness and could have been."

Easier said that done right?

Heck I wrote an entire book on this stuff and I still find myself wanting to retreat into my shell when faced with hoards of people I don't know. Connecting can be at times....scary. But people, trust me when I is so worth it.

They say the first step to recovery is to first recognize that you have a problem; then do something about it. For me that meant reminding myself nothing happens in a vacuum - you need to connect with others in order for something cool, good, profitable (take your pick on description here) on happening. I anchored myself with both a deep breath, remembered to smile, opened my mouth and simply started talking to people. And you know what? Once I made that first connection that connection introduced me to someone else, then I met someone else and so my afternoon went. Until I had met more people than I could remember and found myself smiling inwardly as I recognized I was no longer alone in a crowd and my dog paddle was replaced with a comfortable buoyancy that allowed me to float seamlessly amongst the sea of people.

It felt good.

So whether you are at SXSW, attending that Chamber of Commerce Luncheon (watch out for the powdered eggs and rubber chicken!) or simply meandering your way over to the company coffee pot...reach out and connect with someone today. You might just find that like me, you no longer are alone in a crowd but part of it. And who knows what that might just bring to you.

Ripple On!!!


Steve Harper said...

How classic - received this literally moments after posting this. Just had to share.

What if, Steve, you were so naturally buoyant, no amount of fear or worry you might entertain could keep you from moving forward?

What if, no matter how lost you felt, the path you sought always lay beneath your feet?

What if, no matter how alone you seemed, there were always adoring friends perched upon your shoulder?

Would you then begin to understand the meaning of "Thy Kingdom Come"?

Laughing all the way to the bank,

The Universe

Liberty said...

Very nice! I really like your BLOG today...and I received the Universe note in reverse that first, then your posting. Thanks, Steve! Always inspirational!

Julie Nordskog said...

Ha! I know *exactly* what you mean. People don't believe me when I say I'm introverted either. But the truth is I'll hang back in a crowd for a long time, looking for that safe point of entry. But then I have to remind myself that it only takes connecting with one person. Just a compliment or a joke about the rubber eggs. Pretty soon, I'm having a great time meeting terrific people. Thanks for reminding us to screw up our courage and jump in the swim. It's worth it! If I hadn't been brave for those few moments, I would never have had the pleasure and honor of knowing you! :-)

Arlin K. Pauler said...

Hey Steve:
You said it all in that very first conversation we had a year or so ago. That we can make the world a better place if we would just connect more with each other. I am now beginning to get the real meaning behind your words. I see it between the lines just beneath the "well ya" concept of what I thought you were saying. (Sometimes our personal meaning of what someone is saying gets in the way of hearing what they actually mean)
I too am very shy by nature. Feeling alone, in and of its self, has always felt pretty comfortable for me. It's just that I can't make the difference I want to make hiding out. Because it requires relationships, I have to connect with others to do it. In fact, it seems to me that every good thing we bring to life is in the space of a relationship with another Human Being.
There in is the point I see in what you advocate. Without connecting there can be no relationship. There for just connecting creates the possibility of something good to happen. For this reason connecting in and of its self is a powerful and good thing.
Have a fun and fulfilling day, Arlin

Asha said...


This is a great reminder. I have found most of my days in a foreign country are all about being amongst a sea of people not sure how to connect with them in a foreign language. But the basic principles of the Ripple still apply no matter what language you speak. All people appreciate the fact that you reach out to connect with them. And you just never know where it may lead! I am enjoying rippling through Europe!

PS I read that same email from TUT! Classic synchronicity.

All the best,


Steve Harper said...

After sleeping on this, I decided to remove some comments that a person posted on my BLOG. It was done under the anonymous category and it amounted to flaming. I don't typically delete comments, good bad or indifferent but this didn't sit well with me and I figured rather than stew over it all day, I would just get rid of the negativity.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion even Mr/Ms. Anonymous. I have no problem with comments being left on my BLOG that are done in a respectful manner and in a way that will not offend my other readers. The comments left last night were offensive in nature and unnecessary and I decided it best to remove them.

Thank you to all of you; Liberty, Julie, Arlin and Asha for your comments and positive vibe. You guys are awesome and you honor me with your presence on this BLOG!

Ripple On!!!


jag said...

Your description of how it feels to go into a room/function/event where you don't know anybody was bang on. It takes so much out of me that it's no wonder I'd rather be anywhere else. The cool thing about your post is that it makes me realize that, quite likely, I'm not the only one feeling that way. Duh!

I can stop comparing my insides to other people's outsides, and move on with connecting - even if it's just with one person.

As always, great insight - thanks for being so open...

Pace e bene,

Thom Singer said...

I agree with your decision to remove those comments, as they served no constuctive purpose (and they were not nice to me, either!)

Keep doing what you do, as you make a difference to people.

And don't stew about losers.