*Recently I had the opportunity to do some writing in the North Carolina mountains. One day I was taking a walk and ran into a man I’ll call John, a guy who loves people in his own unique way. During the summer John runs a landscaping business. But in the winter John gets to pursue his real passion. He’s a lifelong skier who loves the snowy mountains and who spent significant time as a member of the ski patrol. But he’s had to give that up to run his own “snow tubing” business during the winter.
John’s eyes light up as he speaks about his business. He loves piling up the snow, getting the tubes ready and providing a great time for all the people who enjoy the fruits of his labors. But the thing John really loves about his business is the opportunity he gets to love people through it. He regaled me with story after story about various people who come to hop on a tube and fly down a snow-covered hill. His favorite stories are those about people with special needs who come for a day of fun. There’s a nearby group home for adults with autism and various other cognitive disabilities. Each year the caregivers at the home bring the residents to John’s tubing hill.
One of the residents is a young man who waits all year to get out on the hill. He puts on his leather bombardier hat, ear flaps down, fastened under his chin, comes running up the hill and says to John, “I’m gonna be Superman!” So John gives him a tube, he lies down on it face first, spreads out his arms, and goes flying down the hill yelling, “I’m Suuuuuuuperman!” John absolutely loves giving the people of the home who spend most of their days sitting inside, an opportunity to have a day filled with exuberance and joy.
You can really tell that John loves the people he gets to serve through his business. He recounts the time a paralyzed sixteen-year-old girl came to the hill along with her family. The previous summer she had broken her neck as she dove into shallow water. Up to that point she had been a world-class surfer. Now, it seemed, that was all but a distant memory.
As the girl’s siblings were having fun taking their turns sliding down the hill, John could see the longing in the girl’s eyes. So he asked her parents if it might be OK for her to have a few jaunts down the hill. John assured them that he would be right beside her and would bring her right back up the hill. They agreed to allow her to do it. So John put her on a tube, got onto a tube right beside her, and held onto her tube as they began the glorious descent down the hill. John couldn’t believe the joy he saw on her face as she flew down the hill, forgetting her troubles for a few fleeting moments.
Art that loves people can be as simple as building a mound of snow and letting people slide down. John’s art is shown in the way he loves people by doing something he loves. He gets to meet people from all over the United States and provides for them something they may not be able to do at home. But more than that, he delivers special, personal service that goes above and beyond to make his guests feel special, welcome and loved.
Loving and caring for people brings purpose to your passions and dreams. We are created to be in community. We are made to serve. When you work with and for people you care about, there is a certain kind of fulfillment that can’t be paralleled. Making other people feel loved and empowered goes a long way toward creating a dream that will perpetuate itself as people communicate your personal passion for them.
How can you show better love to people as you pursue your passion or chase your dream? It’s impossible to be fully and creatively alive in a bubble, all by yourself. Your love for your clients or those you serve can’t be fake. It has to be genuine. People can detect insincerity as quickly as sugar-coated words come out of your mouth.
Don’t “love” people just to get ahead in business or life. It doesn’t work that way. Your love of people, when sincere, will have the fringe benefit of better business and a better life. But isn’t it worth loving people simply for the sake of loving them, and for making the world a better place? Genuine love of people comes from the empathy that’s built into your soul. Don’t be afraid to let it out, show it, and give people the thing everyone needs: love. Your art will stand apart from the cutthroats of the world when you follow your heart to the place where people feel loved.
What’s the unique way that you love people in your daily life?
*This is an excerpt of my upcoming book, Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Fulfilling Life