A former work colleague reached out to me last week.
And, his connection request left me scratching my head. I couldn't have been more surprised.
I use the term colleague loosely. We worked at the same company. But we never spoke except once in a meeting. And around town we never spoke to each other.
It's understandable we never spoke much at the company. He was smart. PhD smart. PhD in Physics smart. Working in IT-development doing cool things on the internet back in the early 90's smart. I'm an art major. I was in customer service and sales support. Much of that time I rode a bike around town as my primary mode of transportation. Winter, summer, rain or snow. We lived in different universes.
Even if we did speak to each other, I'm not sure we could have understood what the other was saying. Seriously. I'm willing to bet one of us would have been impatient, if not offended, within a few sentences. Even if we'd said hello, using only that one word, we'd have missed what th other was saying.
None of this made us bad guys, really. I understood then, sorta (when I wasn't offended...from insecurity), and now why he never spoke.
But, that made his connection request seem even odder.
I thought about it for a few days. Told my wife. ( Her insight, as it often is, was prescient. Maybe he's just shy or distracted?) Still, I pondered it a few more days. And then I decided to...just be honest.
I replied. I thanked him for his request. I re-told some of his accomplishments I'd witnessed and their huge impact on the company. Then I asked why. Why do you want to connect as we never spoke then, nor on the rare occasion I see him now. I said I'm happy to move forward, but, I'm still perplexed.
And if the sun rose in the west, I'm not sure I'd be more amazed than when I read his reply. He thanked me. He was looking to reach out and connect and he'd hit the jackpot in my reply. He said he knew sometimes he came across like that. He was working to change that. And he'd make sure we spoke when we saw each other in the future.
Holy smoke. That response made my day. Honestly, it made my week.
There's no way I can put in words what I felt with his reply. It would have been easy for him to blow it off, not reply or worse...wonder who this bike-ridin' guy was to question him or anything he'd done. That would have been his right.
But he didn't. And not only that, he was honest and open in more ways than...I certainly expected.
His response was a jackpot for me. Huge jackpot.
He reads this blog. I hope he reads this post.
True confession: I'd deleted him and his emails when I saw no reply after a few days. I figured...oh well, at least I saved time to focus on those who really want a conversation. I told him that in my reply to his note. That's one of those prove-me-wrong delights I enjoy.
Funny. Funny in a great, encouraging, way.
Honesty. It always works. But its rewards are greatest with those who can reciprocate. It's with them that you hit the jackpot directly. The others, well, being honest just keeps them from interfering and it does a favor for them, too: it points them towards people where they can be honest and find their own jackpot.
I wasn't sure how to categorize this post. I created ones called TIMING and HONESTY. I added Celebrating failure. I don't see this as a failure so much as a great learning experience.