We talk a lot about introversion and extraversion, the differences and preferences, the scope of their spectrum and tools that can be used by one, the other, or both. Some people have been confused by this project because I say I hate networking events, and I do, yet I lean more to the extravert side of the spectrum. We spend a lot of time with these concepts, often self-diagnosing ourselves and passing out myths and false beliefs about both personalities. One of the questions many people wondered was; what will happen when I encounter a more introverted person in this project?
My new friend George Conklin is more of an introvert. Meeting a random stranger for a chat about who knows what as part of a project is not his ideal good time. In fact, he wondered about whether or not to actually meet me. It took George some time, thinking over it a bit, and deciding he wanted to break out of his comfort zone and grow, before he finally set down and booked a time for us to connect.
George is a brave guy. How many of us will walk that far out of our comfort zone for someone we actually know, much less a complete stranger? I started our talk with a ton of respect for him already.
George is a husband, a father, a veteran and a man deeply rooted in his faith. He's a gamer. In fact, we've played some of the same games, telling stories about our gaming for a few moments as we get the ball rolling on our conversation.
"It's better to play an okay game with friends than to play the best game ever by yourself."
I talk a lot about being present in the moment. Listening during a conversation and discovering the wisdom that all people have, the secrets and pearls the world has shown them specifically in their moments. This quote form George is one of those moments. He's right. It's better to experience the things we may see as "mundane" with great friends than to experience something extraordinary by yourself, with no one to share that ephemeral moment with. That came out in a conversation about video games. It might be the best way I've ever heard that put.
George served in the Army for 8 1/2 years before leaving for medical reasons. He thanks me for my service in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thank him for his. We both had time in Germany, him at Augsberg and Wiesbaden, me at Frankfurt. I joke with him about the separate commissary at Wiesbaden, and how I couldn't find it my first time there. He really laughs when I tell him about the time we told a young Airman in the back of our van that the German nationals saluted the van because they told them he was a Colonel, and how he postured as such for a few hours after. I tell him about the cool missions, about the tragedies, and you can see he feels them both. We are both veterans, it's a family bond.
George taught himself HTML. He is a working web developer now, for some great projects. He is a very intelligent guy, and on the couple of occasions when he loses a thought in passing, I can't help but feel a bit cheated by fate, wondering what that was that went by. Our conversation spans length and breadth of a number of topics. As with most of these, we lose track of time quickly and two hours pass very quickly.
I know this meeting was out of George's comfort zone. I know it took some thinking to decide to do it and I know that I am the better for it. What can I say about an introvert and an extravert meeting to talk? Simply this. When we meet other people with intention to be present in that moment, to share that instance of time, that point in space, with another and to open ourselves to them for all our flaws and baggage, we connect. When we listen and we value others, we begin to build relationships. It doesn't matter if you're an introvert or an extravert, a Christian or Agnostic, we are all just people. People want to connect, we want relationships, we want our friends.
We want to play a game with our friends, no matter how good it is.
I got to spend some more time with George at a barbecue at our mutual friend Derek's house. I got there a bit before he did and when he walked up it was like seeing a buddy show up to the party. That's what happens when we are present for each other.
Thank you, George.
Favorite Dinosaur: Velociraptor
Why: They're just cool. (We are both huge fans of Jurrassic Park)