We walked out of the restaurant, and as soon as I turned around a little boy was standing confidently in my path, hand outstretched to shake mine. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me a question.
“Sir, would you like to buy some cookies or snacks or make a donation to support my Scout troop?”
He couldn’t have been more than four or five years old and maybe three and a half feet tall, but he had a determination about him I rarely see in most grown men.
I immediately smiled, delighted at the unexpected encounter and said, “Of course!”
As we walked off Lacie asked me why I bought something. She was just curious, because anyone that knows me is aware of the fact that sweets are not on my list of vices.
I thought about it for a second. Sure, he caught me a little off guard, and he was a really cute kid, but the real reason was because I wanted to affirm and reinforce his boldness.
It takes a tremendous amount of bravery to approach someone you don’t know, period. Make them twice your size, much older, and then ask them to give you something—most kids won’t.
We live in an environment now where the ability to communicate or to connect on a real, look-you-in-the-eye way is eroding quickly.
I’m not passionate about Scouts necessarily. I simply saw it as an opportunity to close a feedback loop. I wanted that little boy to believe that putting himself out there confidently was valuable, even amidst the other rejection I’m sure he faced that day.
Maybe it was speaking to the salesperson in my heart. My career and living has been a direct reflection of my willingness (and unwillingness sometimes) to put myself out there.
I have no doubt that little guy exceeded any goal his troop set for him. I also don’t doubt there were plenty of people that said no, and that’s also a good thing.
He is going to grow up with a trait the world requires of those who want to excel—grit. He will be able to go after his goals with confidence and able to handle rejection with resilience.
If it cost me a big bag of caramel corn I’ll never eat, so be it. I know we’re all better for it.