137. A new friend each day keeps boredom away.

It’s time to introduce yet another habit.

The habit we will be discussing today and for the following two weeks is one that was brought to my attention recently when I had the opportunity of meeting a delightful man in his 80s who spent considerable time sharing many of his fascinating life experiences with me.

Let’s call him Harry.

Harry, like his dad before him, spent his entire life proudly working as a salesman.

Over the course of a sales career spanning nearly 60 years Harry sold furniture, electronics, vacuum cleaners, life insurance, real estate, memberships, subscriptions, cars and even airplanes.

His dad, spent the better part of 40 years selling brushes, pots and pans and encyclopaedias in the days when door to door salesman were a recognized and accepted part of our culture.

Harry, like most others who have enjoyed fulfilling careers, is fully capable of regaling any audience with story after story outlining his adventures.

Harry told me it was a foregone conclusion, as he neared his high school graduation, that he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

Among the many pearls of wisdom his father shared with him Harry singles out one particular suggestion as being the single greatest contributor to the many successes his sales career have brought him.

His father had told him that the quality of his life would, more than anything, depend on the quality of relationships he developed and that he needed to become exceptionally good at developing relationships.

The way to do this, his father pointed out, was to make it a point at least once a day – every day, seven days a week – of introducing himself to, and be starting an conversation with a total stranger.

The subject of his attention could be somebody sitting next to him on the bus, working in a gas store gas station, serving him in a store, a stranger on the street, anyone.

There was to be no judgment as to whether this this person would be a good or poor choice as a potential acquaintance, but rather the intent was to polish his interpersonal skills.

The second reason for the importance of this daily routine, his father repeatedly reminded him, was because the single most important question we must remember to always ask ourselves is, “How do you know?”

How do you know that the person sitting next to you on the bus will not become the client to whom you make the biggest sale of your career.

The answer is, of course, you don’t know, which is why it is imperative to meet this person.

How do you know the person pumping gas into your car will not become single biggest source of customer referrals you will ever have.

The answer is, of course, you don’t know, which is why it is imperative to meet this person.

How do you know the person walking towards you and the street will not become the best friend a person could wish for?

The answer is, of course, you don’t know, which is why it is imperative to meet this person.

How do you know the person sitting at the table by themselves at Starbucks will not become your spouse?

The answer is, of course, you don’t know, which is why it is imperative to meet this person.

His father drilled into him the importance of assuming everyone has the potential to play an enormously important role in your life and it is therefore incumbent upon you to introduce yourself and begin a conversation.

In fact, as his dad so often pointed out, you have an obligation to introduce herself to that person so they can to can benefit from knowing you.

The Habit of Meeting One New Acquaintance Every Day. It may seem like an awkward thing to do but, as Harry mentioned, the first two or three times he approached a stranger all those many years ago, his heart was pounding in his chest, he could feel himself beginning to perspire and felt the fear of rejection eating him alive.

But after just a few days approaching strangers became as normal, comfortable and “unawkward” as possible, and after a month or two, it became a habit too rewarding to change.

While in his early 20s, Harry walked into a store to buy a pack of cigarettes. He began his usual introductory banter with the young lady behind the counter who immediately interrupted him to point out that smoking was a bad habit and that he shouldn’t be doing it.

The next day he revisited that store, this time to buy mints, and continued the conversation. Two years later he married that lady and over more than 50 years of marital harmony they raised three wonderful children who in turn provided them with seven beautiful grandchildren.

Agnes passed away nine years ago leaving Harry heartbroken yet eternally grateful to his dad for giving him the best advice any father ever gave a son because that advice gave him more than half a century of joy.

Oh, and Harry never smoked to another cigarette after the night he first met Agnes.

The Habit of Meeting One New Acquaintance Every Day will not only enrich your life with rewarding relationships but, as we have seen, is also a powerful smoking cessation program.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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