Taking Advantage of Your Surroundings


Show Notes:


It has been a while since my last episode of the podcast and I want to just jump right into the topic for today. I really do. But wanted to give you just a quick run down of what has been going on. Since the last episode My wife and I purchased a real teardown and we have been going through the process of renovating it ourselves and getting it back up to living conditions and beyond. So that was consuming a lot of my extra brain power and time. We have things to a point that there is direction and so I wanted to start the podcast back up. Get it back on track.

I was thinking about this topic a while back and think that it resurfaced in my mind after this weekend.

So my question to you is, when was the last time that you got together with family or friends? I just hosted my family at my house for the weekend. I had my brother with his daughter, my sister with hers as well and my parents were in town staying at a hotel nearby. We were able to get out and explore the city a bit. We went to the Aquarium and saw the play Motown. Went to dinner, the neighborhood pool. All kinds of things. One activity after another. Exhausting and fun at the same time. Motown is a very good show with some amazing music by the way.

What did you do this weekend or past week? Did you get together with friends and family? Did you travel? Were you able to gather with friends without traveling?

I feel rather lucky today. My wife and I are very lucky to be in a neighborhood that is very friendly to one another. We have friends on both sides of us as well as down the street. This is the first time in my life that I have really known most or all of my neighbors. Of course growing up I knew a lot of people on our street, but that has become less and less common throughout my life.

How many of your neighbors do you know? How often do you have deep conversations with them?

The thing is, it can be extremely difficult at times. I’m what I would consider to be an introvert. Actually I took the myers briggs test and found that i am an INTJ. I for Introvert. I don’t go seeking to talk to everyone. I’m very reserved at functions and usually pretty quiet. Even talking into this microphone is difficult. very difficult. That has been one of my struggles with keeping the episodes coming.

It’s an introvert thing. Or maybe just a me thing.

Would you consider yourself to be an introvert or extravert? I think most people are introverts. Most don’t like speaking in public or walking up to strangers, but you know what, you can change all that. If you identify with that you can change it. It takes practice. And no more than 3 seconds.

Have you ever heard of the 3 second rule? Not the one about dropping food on the ground, but the one about talking to people. So the rule goes that when there is someone you would like to meet you need to get up and go up to them within the first 3 seconds. Otherwise you will talk yourself out of it.

We have this strange inner voice that just tells us not to approach people. At least introverts do. If you don’t have this problem then you are most likely an extravert. That voice tells us that you might sound stupid or they might not like you. Just stay right here and be comfortable. Don’t make a fool of yourself.

And if you let that voice talk to you for more than 3 seconds you will stay right where you are until that opportunity is gone. So I experienced this recently. I was at the AIA convention. There were several people that I wanted to talk to but I broke the 3 second rule and talked myself out of it.

A lot of the time it was not on purpose it was just lots of people were crowding around the presenter or something else got in the way. Excuses right, I could have waited around or I could have approached them faster to beat the crowd. Either way I talked myself out of it.

So how does all this relate to you and your neighborhood and even architecture and demystifying the construction of your home?

It’s about connections to other people. Everything is about connections to people.

I’m not talking about surface level marketing or networking. Those have their place but I’m talking about true connections. These are extremely valuable for our lives.

Are you making connections with the people around you and are you getting to know your neighbors? Not only getting to know your neighbors but are you getting to know your neighbors problems? You might always hear that gossip that goes around neighborhoods. There is always that one person that seems to know everyones problems and loves to share them with the world. This is not what I am talking about. This is personal forming a connection with a neighbor so you can help them as you would one of your family.

What keeps them up at night? what are they struggling with? You might be surprised to learn that you can actually help them work through a problem they might be struggling with if you can get them to open up to you.

I have actually started to take this approach with neighbors. I tell them what is going on in my life. I tell them my ideas my goals. I let them know what I’m struggling with. You would be amazed at the things you can work through by simply sharing your thoughts. The other day I was discussing an issue i was having with one of my neighbors. He was able to give me some clarity on the issue and approach it from another angle. It was really helpful to discuss it and just bounce ideas off someone.

Another thing that I have found a great deal of interest from lately is just exploring my surroundings.

I know that it sounds strange but there’s so many things in the world especially in this digital age that really pull you away from your natural surroundings things that distract you. I mean we walk around looking at our smart phones we don’t take in the things around us as much as we used to.

When was last time that you walked with open ears and open eyes and really took in your surroundings. walk through the city, walk through the field through the pasture, walk in your house. What did you see? What did you smell or sense that really interested you? Was there something that you noticed that might not have been there before or that you just never happened to notice. How has that space changed since the last time you walked through it?

Why is it important to stop and look around to since the world around us to take it all in? It’s important because that’s what makes us human that’s what makes us individuals, free thinkers. It’s what allows us to see the world through our own eyes as opposed to being told how to see the world through someone else’s.

So we’re constantly consuming media, (print, television, internet). We see the world through the eyes that we view it. And when we view it through the lens of the TV or filtered media we’re lead down the path to assume that things are not as they are. Have you noticed how sensational headlines are in the news? What i like to call click bait.

Those snappy titles that make you want to click and find the answer. Then once you do your so angry that you wasted time on it. The story turns out to not be quite as dramatic or even relevant or important. Did what they had to say really have any bearing on how you live your life? Is there anything that you can do about it? Or was it just a sensational story to get you upset and boost their ratings so they can sell more advertising? Did you notice the ad next to the article?

We need to take a step back and look into our own lives. What are we doing? Let me ask that again what am I doing to make a difference? Don’t waste energy worrying about things that you cannot influence or change. Take your energy that you have. Your precious energy that you have and use that to make positive change and positive environments around you.

So look around you in your neighborhood. What’s happening in your neighborhood? What’s happening in your backyard, in your front yard? What can you do in your neighborhood to help those around you your neighbors?

I was recently listening to the portfolio life podcast with Jeff Goins. He is a writer and is an amazing interviewer. He was interviewing another author and she was talking about her neighborhood. Her street. She lives on a cul-de-sac and a lot of her neighbors have lived on the street for many years. So they are older. Well she has kids and her parents sometimes have over other grandkids and stuff. The kids like to play outside and her mother was getting tired of having to stand and watch the kids so she decided to get a bench. She set up a bench in the cul-de-sac and soon got another one. One day she looked out the window and some older ladies were sitting on the bench talking. Nothing unusually they usually came out and talked a bit then went back inside. Well this time they stayed out. They sat for several hours and talked. Neighbors talking to neighbors. This happened again. and again. and again. Neighbors talking to neighbors.

This is what I am talking about. One little bench in the middle of a small cul-de-sac created a place for these neighbors to talk and come together. What is happening in your front yard?

Every town and every city presents opportunities to us. Each one has unique advantages as well as some disadvantages. Explore the places and people around you and understand what the opportunities are in your area. How can these opportunities benefit or enhance your life.

what are the advantages that your location gives you that you wouldn’t get anywhere else in the world. What do you enjoy most about where you are right now and what keeps you there? what makes you want to stay? what would you miss if you left?

It’s funny but when you go to visit other places and you talk to people that actually live in the town your visiting you’ll find out that most of the time those people haven’t really even gone to the attractions or explored the area that you’re actually visiting.

So I want to offer a suggestion, the next time let’s say today you’re running around you’re trying to get everything done, just take a moment. If you’re driving and you see a park just stop for a moment get out and take a nice walk around the park.

We get so wrapped up in the day-to-day we don’t break out of our constant routine to really enjoy what’s around us. So we’ve talked about getting out exploring the world and Taking advantage of the things around us and to connect to the people around us.

So there are two things that we need we need community but at the same time we need privacy. So how do we create both? creating privacy is much simpler than creating Community. Although there are some complexities. There’s times when the two try to overlap. There’ve been many days when all our neighbors are outside talking laughing children are playing and I’m just arriving home from work. This is when it becomes the most challenging to me because as I mentioned earlier I’m an introvert and this is time that I’m the least social. I’ve just been driving in a lot of traffic. the day has been long and I’m tired. The last thing I want to do is talk to people.

But if you want to make sure that you foster the community that you have and maintain those friendships you need to allow yourself to open up to situations that present themselves. Opportunities for bonding with your neighbors. An interesting thing is that after investing the time I start to unwind and relax and just enjoy watching the kids play.

But is there more to it then just hanging out with neighbors and friends is there more to community? And I’m going to say no. Generally when we think of community we might think of something much larger much more comprehensive. Something of that involves your whole city area entire neighborhood but community doesn’t have to be so large and impersonal. It can be a small group that Foster’s one another and helps each other whenever possible.

It’s actually in the smaller communities that you will see the most value. Just take some time this week and think about what’s around you who’s around you and how you’re connected with both.

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