I’m training for a half-marathon and decided to use my weekly runs as a ground for connection.

While stopping by a friend’s or even a stranger’s home to get a drink of water along my route sounds like an appealing approach to deepen a relationship, I decided to practice connecting in a small way on my three weekly runs.

I’m doing this by waving and saying “hi” to all of the other runners, walkers, strollers, bikers and dog walkers along my path. It’s as simple as a looking at them directly, waving, smiling and saying hello.

Sometimes when I’m making this eye contact, I sense that I recognize this person. I think, “Maybe I know that person from church or my child’s school,” or “Maybe I’ll see them later at the grocery store or the city pool.” Perhaps they simply remind me of someone familiar. Or perhaps by mile 8 of 10 I’m delusional and any returned smile would make me swoon.

I’m taking on this personal challenge because I might be the only person to smile, wave and say hello to that person for the entire day. My smile and wave might create a ripple effect in my suburb and soon everyone is smiling and waving on the running paths. My smile and wave could make a difference in a world where people are feeling lost and lonely.

If I can make a conscious effort to look someone directly in the eye, wave and say hello while running a 9:00 minute mile and sweating profusely, what should hold me back from doing this in all other places throughout my day?

If you are a runner, walker, biker or stroller, how do you feel about taking on this challenge?

In what other settings could you undertake this challenge?

Not ready to start looking people in the eye, smiling, and saying “hi”? There might be something blocking you from letting people in. That’s what I help my coaching clients uncover. Reach out to me at natalie@smalltownleadership and let me know how I can help you in this uncovering process.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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