Meeting people, a way to grow.
My basic idea is that development requires change. However, it may be that the development might come through something else, that does not require so much, and I am thinking mainly on meetings between people. An open mind is what is required.
During one of my many trips to Kenya, this became more than obvious when I through social connections, among other things met:
- A former French Foreign Legion
- A former tennis player who played on the tour
What is so special about this?
Well, let me take my meeting with, let’s call him Mark, a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion.
Mark, I met him in a bar, and at the first time it was mostly a lot of small talk and some general and social talk about this and that. He stood there like a soldier, he behaved politely and courteously as a gentleman. But he kept a distance, politely but firmly. I did not think that anything more would come out of this first contact.
The second time we met the discussion became more interesting and took a step in that direction as I mention in the title. Mark told me about what he did, where he came from and how he ended up in Kenya. Interaction with other people in the group discussion topic was also there that I got more and more respect for this man. What he felt and what he thought and what he said made me more and more able to follow him and understand him and his terms of looking at other people and other life situations made me even more interested.
He told how he ended up in the legion as one of the youngest there, he later after 5-6 years, resigned from the legion and continued with safety work issues. His journey through Africa, with different destinations, how he met his wife in Tanzania and how he ended up in Kenya. He had a lot of projects underway, including with the United States to work on anti-terrorism in Somalia and how he saw it, an international pharmaceutical company that needed security in seven African countries, among other things. He mentioned how he missed his wife who was left in France at the moment, but that would come at the first opportunity. Did I mention that he was English? So, here we have an Englishman, the accommodation address in France, working in Africa, with a history in the Foreign Legion. Unbelievable.
Mark was shown to have an incredible network of contacts, and my respect for him grew along with his story and his positions.
I found it uplifting and stimulating to meet a person who I could have a civilized conversation with without having to explain myself in one way or the other, while I got insight into another world that got me to progress and see how it also could be. He made me realize that I could learn how he looked at things from a different perspective and combine this with my experience and lectures. Developing and interesting in every way for me, but for the sake of making something special. Hats off to you Mark. Respect.
The other person, we can call him David, made me rethink and revalue my first impression of a person. It’s not always easy when the first impression lasts longer than expected. “You never get a second chance to make a first good impression” is a saying that come from somewhere and have a reason behind it. However, there are exceptions, in this case with David.
I met David in a different social context and had a somewhat mixed picture of him. Did not know exactly where I had him and what I would think. This kept me in a somewhat safe distance.
Circumstances made him appear again in the same place, and he came and sat down at the table due to the fact that the bar was somewhat empty of people and we had no objection against the company. The conversation got started, and out of the speakers was Elton John playing, who proved to be a common denominator for us.
The conversation flowed with a courtesy tone, I was still a little puzzled and questioning who he was. But soon the tone began to become more personal and he began to open up. He looked lonely and a little lost, which was due to the fact that he just went through a divorce. As I also have done the same, I could relate to his situation where one day consisted of family life and vibrancy and the second day was filled with silence and echoing room. He was alone over Easter when the children went with their mother to the coast, and the silence was even more pronounced for him.
David told me about his life, where he is tennis teacher, a former tennis pro. He was born in Kenya, studied in Canada and returned to Kenya where he ended his career. Now he waits for a reply on his request for citizenship in Kenya in view of their history and upbringing. He told me about his father who had lived in Kenya all her life almost, and how he conducted business since the fifties. How he went to boarding school as a child, something I could relate to, and how then on started with tennis and became a decently successful. Just outside the top 100 on the list.
The conversation widened and covered everything from music to life’s general issues. My interest for David grew and I had to admit that it is possible to re-evaluate a person based on what I set and experienced before. He proved to have more bottoms than a lovely English humour, and David, who had the only one thought to pick up food earlier, stayed until we basically closed the bar that night.
“I’m glad I turned left instead of right.” He said with a twinkle in his eye and the English humour showed itself occasionally in our conversation.
The day after that he invited me to the golf club, a well-known club where he had been a member for many years.
Having said that, I learned and grew to not only go by first impressions, but also give people a second chance. In truth, something I will now take with me.
In addition to this, I have developed as a person of what I experienced while I was there and realize that the world is indeed different. Country, people, culture and in general. Interesting and clarifying. Uplifting and helpful.
While you may never actually get a second chance to make a good first impression, there are times when you may be give others a second chance. I did, and I’m very happy for that.