There are events in life that reach the level of defining moments. These are moments or timeframes that teach a lesson and generally build confidence in some way.
I remember first visiting the Scranton Boys Club when I was about 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school. I grew up just outside of the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
I played basketball with a group of friends every winter at the Scranton Boys Club from my freshman through my senior year of high school. I was a poor basketball player, possessing very little athleticism, but I loved playing at the Boys Club with my friends. I had grown up in a mostly white community.
Playing at the Boys Club opened the door to friendships with a more diverse
group of people. This was a formative step in my youth that began to open my eyes to the world beyond my neighborhood.
The reason this experience at the Scranton Boys Club was a defining moment in my life is because it was the first time I found that I had the ability to make friends and develop a network outside of my family, neighborhood, and school.
To a small-town boy like me, the city of Scranton was bigtime. As it turned out, I developed long term friendships with adult staff at the Boys Club and felt it was an institution that I could go back to rekindle friendships, even after being away for years at a time. Establishing those friendships with people who were clearly outside of my tribe gave me a tremendous amount of confidence to spread my wings and begin to branch out from my hometown of about 3,000 people.
I learned lessons about relating to people and how to make friends at that Boys Club, and perhaps, more importantly, I gained confidence that I could make new friends, even with others who grew up with experiences different from mine. I learned that for the most part, all people have similar wants and needs.
Most people want to be liked. They want to make new friends. People reciprocate when they are treated with kindness. Karma is a powerful thing.
You reap what you sow.
A smile and a little empathy and consideration go a long way.