To See or Not to See

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

I was in Orlando, Florida, last week for work.

I happened to be there over the weekend, so I went to church. 

My plan was to slip quietly in and out, to smile at people but not necessarily engage. 

Most of us are somewhat reluctant to say hello to people we don’t know. Maybe we internalize the stranger danger training of childhood a little too much. 

And yet, when someone does say hello to us, as a few people did to me (one couple even offered me a ride when they saw me waiting for an Uber back to my hotel after the services), what initially feels like an emotional threat becomes an emotional balm instead.

With that simple hello, I felt seen. Like I belonged. And that felt good!! 

Being seen is more on my mind than usual this week because it’s my birthday week. In our family, we celebrate for a week to relieve the stress of trying to create a perfect, singular day. I also get to share this birthday week with our son. He was our first child and the best birthday present, a gift that keeps on giving.

While there is a small percentage of the population that doesn’t want to celebrate their birthdays, I think most people do; most people like being told, “Happy Birthday.” We like a little remembrance of the day we arrived on the planet, and for some of the people in our orbit, it was a joyous day!

When people tell me Happy Birthday, I am thrilled (so feel free!). I feel seen, I feel like I matter, I feel special.

But even though I KNOW that about myself, I have (I don’t know how many times) thought, “Oh, so and so, won’t care whether I wish them a happy birthday or not.”

Why wouldn’t they? I have no answer to that. Of course, they would.

So, I’ve downloaded a Birthday app and started tracking people’s birthdays. It’s very ad hoc, and I am confident I am missing many, possibly yours. As an action, acknowledging birthdays seems like a little thing for me to do, but big to others: I can make them feel seen and a little special. All the small things cumulatively help us feel like we matter and belong.

But in fact, it’s big to me too. It means I’m trying to be more open to my fellow humans, and that’s significant growth I want for myself.

Is there a person (or two) that isn’t on your birthday list that you could add and start wishing a happy birthday? AKA, people who you are going to start “seeing” more than you presently do?

This week’s podcast guest is Jason Feifer, CEO of Entrepreneur magazine and author of the book Build For Tomorrow












We had an interesting conversation about change and how he thinks about it, among other things. There are a lot of great takeaways, including identifying and thinking about your governing question. I know I had an important a-ha.

As always, thanks for being here.

My best,