Acknowledge Fellow Humans

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

Way to go… keep it up!

Next weekend I am running my second Cap City half marathon in Columbus. This will be my fourth “real” half and tenth or eleventh total since I started my weight loss journey. Unfortunately, because of the COVID pandemic, this year’s Cap City was delayed from April to August and then switched to be a virtual run. This means I will be out there running 13.1 miles all by myself. Not the best way to run a race because of the total absence of energy and electricity from the crowd, but certainly understandable.

Just because I am running this half marathon alone doesn’t change the fact that I have had to train and prepare for it this summer. I have spent the past couple of months trying to run a quarter marathon distance, in the summer heat, every Saturday. Not the most comfortable running but important given my August half marathon. So I have been out there pushing myself and sweating like crazy.

Last weekend, at a particularly sweaty point in my run, I passed by a couple who I had seen a few other times during my run. They knew how long I had been running and, just then, the couple cheered me on.

“Keep going, you’re doing great!”

Their cheering gave me a little boost of much-appreciated energy that helped me keep going. I am hoping to get some of that love from strangers while I am running my half marathon next weekend too.

This moment reminded me that, while getting cheered by strangers is good, just the acknowledgment that a fellow human is out there is pretty valuable.

Acknowledgment is Important

In the country town where we have a lake house, it is customary that people wave to and greet each other in passing. When I am out there running or walking and a car drives by I usually get greeted with a wave.

I appreciate that acknowledgment from my fellow humans.

This same thing has always been important to me in an office setting too. When walking down the hall in the office I always appreciate when a coworker says “good morning” or gives me a smile or does anything other than look at the floor and avoid eye contact.

Acknowledging our fellow humans is a fantastic way to say “you matter to me as a human” even if you have nothing tangible to gain from that person. Humanity is more important than utility.

Acknowledge Fellow Humans

In this time of unprecedented isolation and loneliness, you never know how meaningful your acknowledgment of a fellow human can be. I will share a couple of the many techniques that have worked well for me.
First off, it is very easy to acknowledge the humans around you. But it starts with being present in the moment and being aware of your surroundings. Heads-down on your phone is a great way to miss an opportunity to acknowledge a human. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day, you just got a text message, you haven’t had your coffee or any other excuse. The choice is yours and in your control. Be present in the moment.

The first technique is very easy and costs you nothing, including your time. When you pass a person in the hallway, while walking, while running and at any other time, just acknowledge that you see that person. Smile at them. Wave hello. Say good morning or hello. This basic level of acknowledging a fellow human is easy and impactful.

Next, and this one is big for me, genuinely respect and value service industry workers. Your server, bartender, barista or anyone else who works every day to give you good service are all good people. They are fun. They work hard and the work they do is the backbone of our society. So treat them that way.

Don’t respond to your morning barista’s “good morning, how are you this morning” with “I’ll have a large latte!” Failing to at least say good morning discounts their existence and makes you sound like a jerk. Can you tell this is one of my pet peeves?

Talk to your server, as long as their time permits it, and treat them like the person they are. But be careful to be genuine about it. Every server can see through your semi-condescending “customer service” voice. They are a person doing a hard job. Treat them like you would want to be treated and make the job a little easier.

For the final technique, I am going to share a brief story. Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a nonprofit organization for 8- to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running. This organization has a phenomenal mission and hosts a variety of runs in Columbus every year. The girls take to the street and muscle it out to finish their race that they have been training for and it is a fun experience for all.

This past year I happened to find myself out for a walk in Downtown Columbus as a GOTR race was being run. This race, like most races on public streets, included blocking the streets and a heavy presence by Columbus Police to ensure that the street closures are honored and that the participants, volunteers and spectators are safe. These special duty officers are only paid to be there and to keep things safe so most of the time they are pretty disengaged from the actual action of the event. This time was a little bit different.

I watched one female officer whose assignment was to stand in one intersection to control traffic and ensure safety, but she was doing more than that. She was vocally cheering every one of the girls that ran by her. She was super positive, super encouraging and brought a smile to many of the girls’ faces and to mine.

One of the top ways to acknowledge a fellow human is to cheer for a stranger and honestly want them to succeed. I can tell you from my own experience that it makes a big difference.

How have you acknowledged a fellow human today?

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About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.