Recently I have been thinking about how we inspire each other every day without even knowing about it.
I wrote about this experience a couple years ago but wanted to revisit it and go deeper.
Many years ago – around 1997 – I was beginning to paint more. Painting for me had been a very on-again, off-again affair. At this time in my life, while it was more on-again, I was very much a closeted artist.
I carried the self-defeating mind set of “when I am good enough, I’ll show my art and not before.” Unless you passed my security test, you would never know I painted. You can imagine how well this worked for me.
One brief encounter from a stranger challenged me and changed me, although the change would take some time to actually make.
It was a Saturday night and I was out with friends waiting for our table at an Italian restaurant. While waiting, a man came up to me and started to talk to me.
He was an engineer that had recently discovered his passion for art. With no formal training he had painted a very large mural along one of the highways as part of the Atlanta Olympics celebration. He was so proud of it and so excited because soon he was going to Australia to paint a mural there. He even had a marketing team.
My brain went wonky as he spoke. I had driven by that very mural two weeks before and my inner critic had smugly thought, “who painted that thing?”
He pulled out his business card with the mural on it, handed it to me and simply walked away.
That was it. Our brief encounter.
It didn’t matter whether I liked his mural or thought he had any talent. He had what I lacked at that time – the courage to believe in myself, and the willingness to pursue my dreams no matter the obstacles. He was bold and proclaimed it, and I was not.
I took his business card and put it in my wallet, and there it stayed. For seven years. I carried his business card for seven years and pulled it out from time to time to remind myself of the power of believing in oneself.
Years later, I have my own business cards, a web site, a graphic design web site, a Facebook page and this blog I am writing in again. None of this would have ever happened if that man hadn’t challenged me to grow by simply giving me his business card.
Never underestimate the power of your business card, and never underestimate your ability to positively impact another, even though you may never personally know about it.
To the gentleman who gave me his business card, thank you, thank you, thank you.