Have you ever been into a place where you suddenly felt like you couldn't keep up appearances? Like out of your element, but in a good way? I've been to a few places like that, where as soon as I touch the door handle my ability to present all the things I wanted to convey disappears and I have to be my authentic self.
That's what it was like when I walked into a coffee shop I’d never been to and sat down across from Matt Hampton. I had never met him. I had reached out to him on LinkedIn because I saw his writing and I knew he was someone I needed to meet. As I sat down across this man, with his ball cap and cup of black coffee, I was comfortable. I was immediately aware that there were no false pretenses or expectations to present myself in any way. Which is great, because I have pretty much given up on wearing makeup these days.
Right off the bat, he asked me "what's the dream." I didn't have much to say, frankly. I didn't have a set of clearly defined goals at the time. I view myself as an ambitious person but right now I'm pushing myself in opportunities that presented themselves before I pursued my dreams. Right now, I'd rather find out what I hate before I blindly pursue an ambiguous goal. I don't remember what exactly I told Matt, but I've been asking people that question ever since our interaction. It tends to take people a moment, but when they find the words it sheds light on people in ways I couldn't have pictured. I have to say, the man knows how to ask questions.
We had a refreshing conversation about faith. Not the feel-good kind, where you leave as if it was a motivational sermon and you're about to find your soul mate and hit all the green lights. The kind that more sensitive people would be offended by. We talked about miracles, mental health, selfish ambition, and instant gratification. It's always a joy to find people that share the same faith as you, but it's affirming to hear that those who share in the faith want to keep conversations real and aren't afraid to address issues.
As the conversation went on, I felt more and more like this was where I needed to be at that moment. Matt told me about his career journey. Military, startups, financial advising, storytelling, writing... His life trajectory confirmed for me a suspicion I had: most of life is finding out what you are not, instead of what you are. Those very experiences shape who you become, and give you the opportunity to choose who you want to be.
Off all the refreshing points in our interaction, my favorite takeaways are these topics:
We talked about networking. Mostly, how superficial it is. Matt told me how he disliked the mindset of networking because it resulted in treating people like objects. "Connectors" and "Networkers" can tend to hoard connections instead of treating them like they are: people. Even such a small adage as this made me reexamine myself how I treat people. I've hoarded relationships before by selfishly preventing people to meet for my own "good." I was treating people as if they were currency, and acting as if the more valuable connections I had made me more important. I came to this conclusion: People aren't ours to spend, they are ours to do life with. By holding back on connections, you're preventing people from living a more full life.
This next part of the conversation happened fast, but shines out to me the most: Matt said something about what sets him apart from other people is that he approaches life with an abundance mindset. I'd never heard that before, but it rung in my ears. After some clarification, here is how I would describe it in my own words: Most people look at life through a lens of scarcity. The feel like they're running out of time, or relationships, or money. They always have a lingering feeling of want.
Matt is living his life abundantly. He doesn't look at his life and thinks "if only I..." He looks at his life, smiles, and continues to live it.
Which lens do you look through? The Abundance lens, or the Scarcity lens?