The other day, I went on one of my “walk and talks.” These are socially distant walks that I take in the late afternoon, either alone or with friends who also like to walk, talk, dream, ponder, and wonder about life.
I often walk with my friend Simon, an optimist and an astute student of leadership.
The other day, we were walking and talking about Simon’s online courses (you can learn more here and follow him on Instagram, too) and his upcoming podcast, when we came upon two other guys we both know. We stopped to chit chat, and just as we were about to leave, one of the guys said: “I’d like to ask you both a question. What are your three wishes for our country and the world right now? They don’t have to be achievable, but what are they?”
“Wow!” I thought to myself. I figured he was just going to ask which restaurants had good takeout service or something, but hey, okay. I knew I’d need a few minutes to think about how to answer.
Simon’s three wishes popped out immediately.
“One, that we become better listeners in business, in politics, and in our homes,” he said. “Two, that we commit to service, and that people start to do more for others, with no expectation of anything in return. Three, that we commit to human relationships, that family dinners become important again, and that we spend more time with our friends—without our phones present. I hope the balance of how we communicate tips away from typing and back in favor of talking.”
Then he added another wish. “Four, that America leads again with virtue and values, not might and money.”
“Damn,” I thought. "Those are good. They are smart and actually possible. And he topped it off with alliteration. I love alliteration!"
Just as Simon took a breath, the gentleman who asked us those questions replied. He said that his wish was for a vaccine. The other guy said his wish was for peace in the Middle East.
As they spoke, I stood there still wondering about my three wishes. It’s an interesting question to pose, both to yourself and to others you might be walking, talking, or FaceTiming with these days. In fact, when I got home, I posed the same question to my family.
My daughter Christina said that she wishes for world peace. My son Patrick said that he wishes for a vaccine. His girlfriend Abby wished for a kinder world. The list went on.
I posed the question to others this week as well. Some I spoke to said they wish for this new simplicity in our day-to-day lives to take hold. Others said they hope that we have an increased focus on health and on the environment. Pretty much everyone I spoke with expressed a deep desire for a kinder, more compassionate world, along with continued respect for those who work on the front lines.
All of those wishes are entirely possible, by the way. We’re capable of all of them right now. Yes, that’s right. Wishes don’t have to be something unattainable. They can be concrete desires that each of us works towards and activates in our lives and in our world right now.
So, what are my three wishes? Well, once the guys finally stopped talking (I’m kidding, mostly), I replied with my thoughts.
“I wish everyone who lost their job would get it back immediately (36 million Americans have filed unemployment claims in the last eight weeks!). I wish that we would elect leaders who called on us to be of service to our fellow human beings, and who would ask each of us to make a difference. I wish they would also champion family leave. After all, it’s hard to think about going back to work if there is no childcare or eldercare. Plus, it’s just too damn expensive for the vast majority of working parents."
“And finally,” I added, “My last wish is for every person to feel deeply loved, deeply seen, deeply understood, deeply heard, and deeply valued in their homes and in our country.”
I said that because I know that when you feel deeply valued, deeply loved, deeply seen, deeply understood, and deeply heard, then you are able to move through the world completely differently. When you feel that way, you intrinsically desire for everyone else to feel that way as well. You will do whatever you can to make it possible for others, one person at a time. That’s what moves humanity forward. That’s what makes a country great. Wishes that bring you meaning. Wishes that make a difference in another person’s life.
What are your wishes for our world right now? They can be anything. After all, there is so much that can be better for so many right now. I’ll bet whatever your wishes are, that you can take them from wishing to hoping to actually happening. Just believe. Just try. You really can start doing it today.
Remember, right now, what really matters most is making a difference in the lives of others. Let's do it one person at a time. That’s what will really help us all to move forward.