The other day, I was reminded of something that I suspect many of us (and if not, I am certainly guilty) forget.
It’s a simple lesson, which is you never know who you’re going to meet. Or you never know how influential someone you are talking to can be.
It may happen on the train where you spark a conversation with a stranger. They seem ordinary enough, right? But, in the world of Google, Linked In and Facebook searches, you come to find out that that nice gentlemen was the CEO of a leading company or a published writer or a talk show host you listen to but never knew what the person looked like.
I had this experience the other day as I played golf with someone I had never met. This person was an unassuming gentleman, but, as it turned out, he was recently retired as the CEO of a large, national corporation.
You see, golf as anyone who plays the game can attest, has a way of tearing down certain barriers. It allows us to play as equals whereas life does not provide this structure. Of course, getting on to the golf course, i.e., getting access to exclusive clubs, is a topic for a blog some other time.
During a round of golf, we are pretty much dressed the same, have the same love for the game and share the same frustrations for the game. Golf is an equalizer because most of us stink at it. Even those of us with decent handicaps, like in the 8-14 range, struggle and that struggle is part of what creates a common ground.
But, more than anything, you are on the course, isolated from the world, together for 4-5 hours. The shackles of our own “caste” system are shed. In real life away from the course, he pulls into his gated community or into his lifelong preferred parking spot, while I go back to my simple and plain existence, parking with the rest of John Q public and blending into the “worker bee” community that I belong to.
On the course, however, we are equalized by strokes and humbled by the difficulty of the game. We are also united by the love and passion that we have for the game. If nothing else, we can talk about golf for hours. From there, the conversation can go into other aspects of life like love, family, friends and sports.
My point is that you never who someone is, so take the time to be open and courteous to all, not just those you think can help you improve your career or social status. The gift you will receive in turn (not that you should look for gifts) is an unlikely or a chance meeting that could open up endless possibilities. More importantly, can spark an unlikely friendship or a connection that can last a lifetime!