Okay maybe not every stranger... but the thing is most people around you aren't serial killers and probably think of you as the weird-o. And this sad loop of doubt means stepping into an occupied elevator to the top floor is an awkward experience when it could have maybe been an interesting conversation!
I wasn't a very confident kid growing up and felt nervous speaking to adults and strangers. But the experiences during my 6th form helped me break down the shells I was hidden in and slowly started developing the skills of being able to strike up a conversation and listen! To me, a conversation is a bit like a dance; the speaking and listening parts need to fit together harmoniously. Even an excellent talker will find it very difficult and not enjoyable to speak to someone who is nervous and unable to engage in this "dance". Your facial expressions, the way you stand, how often you blink... tons of these tiny details subconsciously tell the person you are listening to whether you are interested and care for what they are taking about. Similarly, everything you say needs to be filled with enthusiasm, energy and emotions - if you aren't excited by what you are saying, why should your listener be? So why am I rambling about being open to share and listen? Because so many of my most important breakthroughs, both personally and for ZNotes, have come to fruition because of a conversation. Today is a good example of this!
A couple months ago, I somehow got talking to a gentleman in a coffee shop on campus where I was studying. He was waiting to meet a few people there but soon enough, we got into an exciting conversation about psychology and a hundred other things. Months later and a couple more meetings, we have been able to share useful contacts for each other and today, ended up playing a short game of tennis! I also have a meeting setup with one of his contacts who may want to collaborate on some aspects of ZNotes. All because of a coffee shop encounter!
After the game and a fantastically warm run in Regent's Park (the team's classic training route) I headed home and had a call with another "stranger"! I'd got connected to him a while back because of his great work and campaigning for the UN SDGs. And finally, after many failed attempts, we got on a call and shared each other's story. It was an exciting chat, I learnt lots of things for him and actually, you guys might be hearing from him soon on a pomcast!
Moral of this post? If people don't know your story, they can't help you. And you can't even imagine how an unknown person can completely change your perspective and life! (I would ramble about the Chaos theory but maybe that's for another day...)