Am I a good outpost for others? I asked myself that question recently after completing a long-overdue email cleanse.
Over the past several months I’ve let my email in-box get a little out of hand. When the message count topped 600 the other night, I decided it was past time to deal with them. For about two hours I went through most all of my messages; deleting ones I’d already handled, filing the ones I wanted to keep, and writing embarrassed responses to those I long neglected.
That experience made me notice something I hadn’t seen before in the typical stream of daily emails. Sprinkled irregularly throughout the normal barrage of requests and information were emails I received from family and friends forwarding something they thought I would have an interest in seeing. They were acting as outposts—my private spies alerting me to interesting tidbits I’d otherwise never discover.
Which gave rise to my question: Am I good outpost for others? Do I keep an eye out on their behalf as well? I’d like to think I do, but if I’m honest with myself, it’s not habitual, nor is it at all intentional. So, I decided to create a checklist to challenge my growth in that area:
- When I read or watch something, ask myself who could benefit from it and forward it to them.
- When I get introduced to someone, ask who would also benefit from meeting them and offer to make an introduction.
- When I meet with someone, ask them what I can be on the lookout for that might help them and write it down.
- When I’m preparing to meet with someone, anticipate what they might need and, if possible, bring it to the meeting.
The stuff that comes our way when thoughtfully and proactively shared with others can lead to new insights for their journey and for ours. As terrific as Google is, it has no context for interest. You are your friend’s best information filter. You know what makes them tick. And what tickles them. So, go ahead, be that outpost. And while you’re at it, send something my way.
My list is incomplete. How would you add to it?