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Fear of the Unknown

Posted by on July 23, 2014

An odd thing happened to me over the holiday weekend and I really don’t know what to make of it.

I’m looking at it as a teaching moment for my son, but the truth is I don’t really know what the lesson is to teach him yet.

The long and short of things is that I visited an area business – a place I have been going to since birth and one of the owners didn’t recognize me.

I have met the owner many times and even had direct conversations with them. But in an odd public interaction (many of my family members were watching) this owner asked me my name and who I was.

I was taken back for a minute, but I shrugged it off. I have always been somewhat shy. In certain circles, I’ve flown under the radar.

I shook off my lack if popularity and began to rationalize the encounter.

“I had a hat and sunglasses on..” “I don’t come to this place that often…During my college years I only came by once or twice per year.”

All were plausible but more likely just denial.

So what does it all mean? I don’t exactly know but maybe a better question to ask is this: What does being recognized and acknowledged by miscellaneous business owners get you?

Everyone knows me at Starbucks. Everyone knows me at the local bar. Neither establishment is throwing free drinks at me the second I walk in the door.

Sales pros will tell you that the sweetest word to anyone is when someone says our name aloud.

Maybe that’s all it is. We all feel the need to be loved and appreciated. It’s never really about getting anything in return. One person recognizing the other exists gives us all the comfort and support we desire.

So what advice would I give my son? I will tell him that if he feels better when people say “hi” to him in public, he should return the favor.

In the end maybe I shouldn’t be disturbed by the shop owner who didn’t know who I was. I should have introduced myself more, used their name more and been more present instead of absent.

We all are responsible for ourselves. If you want everyone and their mother to know who you are and shout your name from the mountain top it’s up to you.

And if you want to fly under the radar you can do that too. But before you focus on being invisible can you tell your friends and family about I don’t know if we can build this community without knowing each other.

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