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What are the People Like in YOUR Town?

Feb 16, 2024

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

                                                                                  - Mahatma Ghandi


Today, many would say that we are living in a deeply divided society. 


The anger, irritation and resentment that comes from others not seeing the world the way we see it, can permeate our everyday life and is fueled by the constant images and reports we see on news and social medias.


So much of our frustrations come from wanting others to act, speak or think like we do.  If not in the absolute, at least in a willingness to listen to us and consider our point of view in a civil and empathetic way. 


But what about us?  Are we willing to do the same? 



This reminds me of a story.


A young man arrives in a new town knowing nobody.  As he is walking down the street, he sees an elderly gentleman sitting on a rocking chair in front of the general store and asks him


“Hey, old man, I’m new in town. What are the people like here?”


The old man responds, “What are they like in your old town?”


The young man answers, “Oh, they are mean, dishonest, they will cheat you at every turn.”


The old man tells him, “That’s probably what you’ll find here.”


Later that day, another young man who is new to the town walks by and seeing the old man still rocking in his chair asks of him,


“Excuse me, sir.  I am new in town, what are the people like here?”


The old man responds, “What are they like in your old town?”


The second young man answers, “Oh, they kind, considerate and always willing to lend a helping hand.”


The old man quips, “That’s probably what you’ll find here.”


I’ve always loved this tale.  To me, it is the quintessential illustration of how the ways we show up being in life have a profound impact on the people we attract into our near field.


As I am writing this, I am reminded of a trip I took several years ago, to visit my son, Jason, in Ireland where he was completing his master’s degree in film at the National University of Ireland-Galway. 


To say I am proud of his accomplishments in during his time there is an understatement.  He thrived in the program and while earning his advanced degree, he grew as a screen writer, editor and director. 


During my week in Galway, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with several of Jason’s friends.  I met his roommates, eight of his fellow classmates and his former landlords who now refer to themselves as Jason’s “Irish Family”. 


I even met his Dodgeball teammates and participated in their 2-hour practice (I think it was because Jason found great pleasure in having me be on the receiving end of several zinging dodgeballs 😊)


In in each encounter, I found myself thinking, “Wow, the Irish are such incredible people”.  While those I met were wonderful, I came to realize is that this probably didn’t happen by chance. 


Jason had a part in attracting these wonderful friends into his life.  Just as he had done back home in Denver, he had created a community of beautiful friends who loved and respected him. 


This didn’t happen by accident.


It most likely came as a result of the positive way of BEing that Jason had showed towards others.  This positive energy had simply been reflected back to him.


This made me reflect on how I am with people.  Am I taking the time to be kind, considerate and to be a good friend? 


Am I taking the time to connect with people, whether they are members of my family, someone I have known for years or the checker at the grocery store? 


Am I taking the time to really listen to people, especially those with whom I may not agree, and do my best to understand and empathize with their point of view? 


Even, if I strongly oppose their position, can I do it in a way that honors, respects and appreciates them?


How am I BEing when I am out in the world and what is the world reflecting back to me? 


This week, I challenge all of us to take some time to truly connect, listen, appreciate and empathize with those we meet.  BE the type person you would want reflected back to you. 


Then take some time and ask yourself, “What are the people like in MY town?”


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching



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