Last week I had the pleasure of being with my John Maxwell Team Family in Orlando for the International Maxwell Certification event. It was 5 full days with 3100 other trainers, speakers and coaches who are passionate about leadership and adding value to others. The best part, is that I finally got to meet John Maxwell and the rest of the faculty that works so hard to equip us with the best training and knowledge in the industry. What an experience – it is something I will never forget.
From the moment I got to the hotel, I knew I was part of an incredible team. I was welcomed by team members as soon as I entered the hotel with a hug and a smile. You see, I was travelling alone to this conference and I had heard that there would be over 3000 people there. To say I was a little nervous was an understatement. And although I went alone, I was never alone and I have never felt so connected to people I just met like I did at this event.
I wasn’t always brave…
As someone who has been leading events for nearly a decade, I am aware of how scary it can be to walk into a room full of people you do not know and try to “fit in” with the crowd. I remember going to an event alone once, where there were 100 women in attendance. I slid to the back of the room watching people converse and laugh while I stood alone and shy. After about 15 mins, I texted my husband and told him I was coming home. I left because no one talked to me and because I was too scared to go and talk to anyone in that room. There were no smiles and no warm hugs in that room for me.
From that day on, I remember thinking I would make sure that anyone who attended one of my events would feel welcomed and included. I didn’t need to come up with a deep question or have anything in common with someone to connect with them or make them feel comfortable. All I had to do was smile and thank them for being here. And then, introduce them to someone else with a smile so they knew they were not alone.
When you smile, the world smiles with you.
Walking into the opening ceremony, I was once again welcomed with big smiles and high fives. People genuinely excited to see me there and welcoming me to the John Maxwell Team. As I found my seat at the table, something strange happened. I was not the shy woman hiding in the back of the room. I was brave and confident and excited to meet others who were here for the same reason I was – to lead. Who were here to learn how they can make a difference in other people’s lives. I was with my JMT family.
I left Orlando changed. For 5 days, I received smiles and hugs from people I have never met. Each meal meant new friends to meet and each time I sat at a table, I was once again welcomed with a smile. Although I arrived alone, I felt like I was with my closest friends and family the whole time.
We will never know how a smile can touch another person’s life. I encourage you to try it out. The next time you go to an event, smile at the person sitting alone at the table. Pull up a seat and say hello. The next time you are at the grocery store, smile when you pass them in the cereal aisle. And the next time you feel shy or afraid that you will be alone, smile and see how the world around you smiles back.