Last week I was on a streetcar in downtown Toronto. A middle aged homeless woman seemed in an urgency to get someone’s attention as people on the street kept ignoring her. As I got off the streetcar and walked in her direction, a school bus pulled around the corner and was waiting in traffic. She went and sat on the road and without knowing she was almost directly under the back wheel of the bus. I ran to get the drivers attention not to move the bus and it took a few minutes to convince her to get off the road.
I asked her why she sat in the middle of a busy road. She told me she wanted people to see her, to listen to her and be acknowledged as a person.
That she is judged by her circumstances and how lonely and empty that feels. I told her that she was important and her life mattered and we spoke about her current circumstances some more.
Our ten-minute conversation provided me the opportunity to think about my vulnerability around how I am being seen, acknowledged and how messy that can look from time to time. It's such a powerful reminder to see your own stuff through the lense of someone else’s experience. Feeling the difference between empathy and sympathy.
This is one of the biggest pieces of coaching work I do with organization leaders, creators, entrepreneurs and teams. Brilliant and successful individuals, who don't feel acknowledged for their work and effort, create their own version of "sitting on the road" and wait for better things to happen. What I reflect is how they are showing up and presence them to the choices in front of them.
You can choose in the moment to be seen from more heart based action and have that power to acknowledge someone in your work/life and be that difference today.
BELIEVE IT. FEEL IT. HAVE FAITH.