Friday afternoon. Prague, Evropská street, next to Hadovka business center.
The traffic was quite heavy that day, cars flowing down to the city in both lanes, as well as up away from the center in the other direction across the tram rails.
I was walking up from the client’s office to catch the tram when I noticed a tall guy on skateboard coming down from the hill on my side of the street. Even though I am not a big fan of skateboarding, he was fun to watch, with his smooth turns around the pedestrians and jumps up and down the sidewalk.
When he was about 50 meters away from me however, he didn’t manage one of his jumps and stumbled. It almost seemed he was going to fall flat on his face. Luckily, somehow, while in the air, he got control of his flight and landed on his feet.
You could see that he was relieved by the result…
Only until he realized that his skateboard continued its journey down the street – 10 meters away from him and gaining speed. He started running in order to catch it.
When the skateboard dashed around me, I gave an attempt at stopping it, but without success – too slow, I missed it.
I would have said it was mission impossible for the skateboarder… But when he ran around me a few moments later, he looked determined. I was really curious to see how this was going to end.
At that moment I realized that I was not the only one watching the show. All the people passing by (it is not a too crowded place, but there were a few) were looking too. A decent looking girl on high heels stared with her mouth wide open, until she realized it, and put on a more appropriate facial expression.
All of us were drawn into the story – and all of us wanted to know, how it would turn out. Will the boy be able to catch his skateboard? How far will he keep running? Will it cause a car accident?
Stories are like magnets for us. Or perhaps even like the lights that attract the moths. We want to know what happens to the protagonist.
It made me think about situations, when we want others to become interested in us. Which is perhaps whenever we meet someone new – or whenever we tell our elevator pitch.
When you meet someone for the first time in your life – what do you tell them about yourself?
What I had a chance to observe, we introduce ourselves in rather static mode, saying who we are and what we do. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a financial analyst, I’m an online marketing specialist.
But the youngster chasing his board made me realize that perhaps much more interesting than who we are – is where we are going.
How about this: The next time you meet someone new – instead of telling them what you do – try to tell them where you want to get. What you’re struggling with. Share what you want to achieve, even if the results are not certain. Draw them into your story.
The skateboarder was sprinting for more than 100 meters, when his board went off the sidewalk onto the road. Still running, he looked back – there was red on the traffic lights above, so for the moment the road was empty. The slope was a bit milder here, which allowed him to cut the distance between himself and the board quickly. But he was getting exhausted of the sprinting and knew, he’ll have to slow down soon. With the last stretch of effort, he made his few jumps a little bit longer, so he had the board almost within his reach. But it was impossible for him to reach it with his hands – it would slow him down too much.
He tried for an alternate solution. He kicked the rear of the board with his toes. It took off the ground and flew up in the air, spinning. When it fell back on the road, it started rolling over. That was definitely a lot slower than going on wheels. Apparently, on the edge of his strengths, the guy managed to get ahead of the rolling skateboard and stopped it by his calves.
Traffic lights above were already showing green and the cars started approaching, so he quickly picked it up and ran with it to the sidewalk.
A little happy ending on Friday afternoon.
I went home thinking – what’s my story?
And what’s yours?