Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How I Became a Starbucks Stalker - Pt. 8

I realize the title of this series of posts may be somewhat unusual. The word stalker often conjures up negative imagery when you first think of the term. I realize that of course and that is so obviously not my intent. So rest easy my good readers, if you see me at your local Starbucks needn't you worry about my pursuing you like Wylie Coyote does the Road Runner. I am both smart enough to know Acme Dynamite will never have a positive conclusion and a steel anvil to the head at my age would certainly hurt more than I would ever want.

No, I use the word Stalker sort of tongue and cheek to illustrate a point. What I learned from J is connecting with complete strangers is hard work. It takes effort. It takes focused determination. And it takes a lot of time. Some of my greatest connections occurred only after sometimes months and even years of seeing the same old faces over and over again until I was a fixture in one's morning routine of daily scenery. Then and only then would idle chit chat become something more relevant and revealing.

J showed me in all the time we spent that in order for us to make the kinds of connections we wish to have we must first demonstrate our own courage. Stepping outside the box of what society thinks as normal is at times scary. The leap of faith one must take is often only masked with one's ability to handle the rejection of those who are not ready or willing to accept you. For me that was one of the hardest and most discouraging parts of learning to connect. But rest assured whenever I even had the slightest thought of giving up there was J's voice popping into my head and challenging me with the word "Next!" As in next person.

That's the great thing about life....there is always someone else who teed up and ready to connect with you if you are just willing to look. Whether it be the routine of motley characters that venture in and out of any Starbucks in the world on a daily basis or the person sitting next to you the airplane or at the movie theater. People are, without a doubt, there in your path for a reason. The only real question and the one that J asked me is....are you willing to make the effort to discover why?

Some of you may be wondering and many of you have asked if J is a permanent fixture in my life. Unfortunately no. J moved on shortly after teaching me what he had to teach me. A friend to the end, he was and is no doubt truly proud of what I have done with the lessons he took the time to teach me. He is without question proud of what I have accomplished and that I have picked up the reins of his wisdom and added my own and I share it with all who will listen.

The day that I realized he would no longer be joining me for our morning coffee and connection chats a blueberry muffin arrived at my table with a note. It read:

Steve you are destined to do so much in this life. I knew that when I first laid eyes on you. You will undoubtedly make amazing connections that will carry you far and bring many adventures to your life. Some of these connections as you have already experienced, will have an immediate and direct business impact for you and your company. That is good. But never ever forget it's those connections that don't have a business outcome that are the real manna from which you should feast. That is where the good stuff and the great adventures are to be found. But you already know this.

Be well my friend and remember to watch for me, I just may very well pop back up at a table near you someday. Until then I entrust you to go out into the world and make a difference in people's lives. All it takes is a smile and a creative question and you're off to the races.



With that I unwrapped my muffin and took a big bite and started to chat with the lady who just had sat down next to me. J would be proud.


terri said...

As I read this series, I actually found myself questioning whether or not J was a real person or just there for the benefit of the story! Regardless, you say he is no longer a permanent fixture in your life, but I disagree. Whether he's physically in your life or not, he was a catalyst for you and what you are doing with your life. I'd say that makes him a permanent fixture.

This was an awesome series, Steve! I loved it.

Ann said...

This has been a great series. I found myself looking forward to reading the next part of the story.

It's amazing what a few changes, stepping out of one's comfort zone can do to truly change our lives.

...sorta ripples, you know?


TT said...

You are NOT going to run a 10 part series on Starbucks are you? I can't stand there watered down, flavory coffee.

Hey Steve, been a while and glad to see you again friend!


P.S. get rid of that damn verification word thingy, pls

Arlin K. Pauler said...

Steve and everyone else:
Certainly J is still a part of your Life, and now ours. What J gave was such that while he is gone it is as though he is not. The presence of his Spirit of Goodness and Love resides in your memory, ours as well, and out lasts the presence of his body. This series is as much his ripple as it is Steve’s.
Though we may not see ourselves as enlightened or as precise as J, it seems to me we are all our own unique form of him. We all have goodwill to share with others and the Spirit of that out lasts our physical presence.
Had J and Steve not connected there would not have been this story. Steve would likely be a different person and may well not have developed the whole connecting and rippling thing. All the goodness we get out of that would not be happening. Given that we can’t not make a difference; the option is what kind of difference do we chose to make, one of connecting and sharing our goodwill with others or that of withholding it?
For me J is still here reminding us, through Steve’s words, to connect, share the goodness of our interest in others and receive all the good stuff that comes from doing so.
What do you folks think?
Have a fun and rewarding day, connect. Arlin

Stew - Just A Reader said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome series Steve. I loved every minute of it and honestly I am sad to see it come to an end. I hope you will consider making the whole story available as an eBook. Mark me down for twenty copies if you do! My team needs to read this I can assure you.


Anonymous said...


I went and read the entire series today and I thought it was fantastic! I actually postponed a conference call and printed out the series to read.

You really should have publish this!