I was sitting in my “regular” coffee shop in suburban Taipei this morning all comfy with my Americano (aka: “black”) cuppa, freshly-baked raisin bread, and English-language newspaper (“Taipei Times“) all ready to chill and ease into the day.
Suddenly I realized that someone was standing beside my table.
I looked up to see a young fellow looking eagerly at me and apparently screwing up the courage to speak.
He then introduced himself and asked if he could sit.
Now the misanthrope in me doesn’t like to be disturbed pre-caffeination.
But the Southerner in me can’t say “no” to a stranger’s outreach.
So I invited him to sit, and we chatted for about 30 minutes about the United States, politics, Taiwan’s growth in general, etc.
Finally I realized he wasn’t going to budge, so I decided to end this unplanned but not totally unpleasant disruption of my routine. I wished him well and left.
As I was walking back home, I started thinking about what had just happened and why.
I’m not an “early adopter,” but I’m usually pretty quick to jump on the bus.
But…as they also learn…I can be a pretty stubborn creature of habit and don’t like it when some things change…as when my morning hangout here in Taipei, The Bread Societe’, remodeled while I was “away.”
Slightly different clientele…still somewhat upscale, but different in an indefinable way.
Which means I will be cruising the neighborhood to see if there’s another comparable hangout where I can jump-start my mornings.
Anywho, back to this morning and his perspective…
I have to give “Steady” (the young fellow’s chosen English name) credit. He was willing to, on spying a foreign face, step up and start a conversation… in a language that, for him, was unfamiliar.
He had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he was willing to take the chance…to try something new.
Kind of threw him off when he learned that I am a college professor…my colleagues here (Taiwan) get a very high level of respect (hint, hint)…but he plugged ahead.
And we both had a rather pleasant time of it.
There’s a lesson to be learned here.
“Routines” can be a good thing…until they turn into “ruts.”
It’s nice…like wearing an old pair of shoes…to keep doing the same things day in and day out.
But you don’t learn in a rut…and you certainly don’t progress in a rut.
So be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Network…Start up conversations with total strangers on the off chance that you might meet someone interesting or learn something new.
Learn…Take courses on topics that you know nothing about but think, from the description, could be interesting or add to your skill set.
Explore…Look at job possibilities or internships outside the “normal” selection that your academic advisors and career services counselors offer. (Note: I am not suggesting that either of these latter options is wrong!)
Try something new!!
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”– Yogi Berra
* Note: Post slightly edited 06-02-2013 to appease local (Taiwan) readers.