Dear Younger Me:

I trust you remember how much as a young boy in the sleepy beach town of Dunedin, Florida, that I loved baseball.  I lived, breathed, and played it as much as I could.  Together, Dad and I watched almost every Saturday afternoon “Game of The Week” on television.  As we de-shelled and devoured the salted peanuts, my attention was glued to every pitch, every swing, and every play.  To hear a non-Saturday game required carefully tuning the AM transistor radio at night in my bedroom, often to a weakly powered radio station often hardly audible.  Remember? Ah Baseball!

One time per year though, usually during March, the excitement of professional Spring Training baseball energized our little town. The anticipation of teams coming to train for six weeks getting ready for the new Major League Baseball Season was intense.  Really?  Once a year, we actually saw these amazing baseball players in person and watched them sharpen their skills in our town before leaving for New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Toronto, Boston, and beyond to begin their regular season?  No wonder I slept with my glove under my pillow each night.    This kind of “in awe” feeling made seeing these well-known players, looking larger than life and giving the feeling that I knew them well.

So, what is this about?  Life lessons have taught me there is a significant difference what is seemingly an insignificant, re-arrangement of these two words.  Well-known -> Known well.  To say someone is well-known merely places an external label that connotes notoriety, being recognized in a large way.  This could be attached to someone popular, maybe well-skilled at something, or just notable for something that draws the attention of many.  I now understand these baseball players who I saw and admired were just well-known.  I did not know them at all, let alone well.

Relationships, real relationships in business and in personal lives involve being known well and knowing others well.  These quality relationships with colleagues, friends, customers and business associates go beyond what just being well-known can bring.  In today’s measure, well-known can be the number of followers, retweets, going viral or trending, number of downloads, likes or shares.  By contrast, to be known well takes a real, human engagement, sincere caring and interaction over a period of time.   There is a desire to find common ground for personal, professional, and maybe even a deeper level of connection with others.

While both of these “beings” are relevant and meaningful, which would you rather be, well-known or known well?  If you struggle with identity, meaning, or purpose in life, business or relationships, I recommend you seek opportunities to be known and know others well.  Your situation will improve almost instantly.  Seek to know others well and allow yourself to become known well.

Keeps developing meaningful connections
Not interested in quantity, instead seeks quality
Owns and invests in self and relationships
Works to understand and to be understood
Notable by noticing the nuances

Walks side by side with others
Elevates and elevated by those around him/her
Listens first, long, and often
Loves without condition

– Bruce Pulver

*Proceeds from The Conversation Event benefit The Mobile Book Library for Homeless kids and families.

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