Every now and again, you come across someone who makes a profound difference to you and your life.

Although your paths may only cross for a brief moment (in this case, several hours), that person’s impact is greater than you could have ever predicted. The interaction can touch you to the core your being…staying with you, transforming you, forever.

Several moments of interaction can uncover the deepest human truths and the most ancient of wisdoms.

Brett is one of those people in my life.

We met Brett just around the corner from the hotel we’re staying at whilst on holiday in New York.

I want to tell you a few things about this man:

He’s a voracious reader – his current book of choice is called Detroit is our Beat, but it’s pretty easy to tell he’s read more than a few. He’s a true bibliophile.

Unsurprisingly, he knows a hell of a lot about New York, including the fact there’s this place you can go and have your picture taken, called ‘Love’. Here’s Sienna – literally “in Love.”

He also knew a whole lot more about New Zealand than most Americans I’ve met.

As he said in his own words – “I’m not stupid, just crazy.”

Brett is intelligent, articulate, friendly, witty and frankly, treated my kids with more kindness and respect than many adults they’ve come in contact with in their lifetimes.

The best thing about living in New York?

“Every day is so different.”

The worst thing?

“Theres a whole lotta stupid people out there.”

Meeting Brett has been a highlight amongst a whole lotta highlights in my visit to the coolest city on earth.

Why am I telling you this?

I want to encourage you to look past first impressions.
Reserve your judgement about the people you meet.
Take the time to look beyond the surface.

The wonderful interactions between Brett and my family over the last several days would have never occurred if I had “read a book by its cover” and hurried on by, or turned away.

What opportunities would have been lost (for him and us)?

What gifts were bestowed on my kids because we took the time to stop and look past our respective stereotypes?

The tourist family from the Antipodean country and a homeless guy on the streets of an American city –  on the surface, it would seem we have nothing in common.

But, what magic took place!

What valuable lessons were learned when both Brett and my family took the time to listen to each other?

To share our stories, have a joke or two, talk about books and random facts and, most importantly…

Look past immediate impressions to connect with another human being and experience the common humanity in all of us…

These things will live long in my memory.

So, thank you Brett.

Thank you for making New York even more magical than I thought it already was.

For reminding me to look past the five second “judge a book by its cover” reflex of our times.

For teaching me what a true, wise gentleman is. And it has nothing to do with money, status or possessions.

In Brett’s words…

There are two things that are important in life:

  1. Happiness. Find happiness in whatever your situation is and in whatever you do.
  2. Seek success. But not what other people decide success is. It’s what YOU decide success looks like, inside yourself, that matters.

Amen to that…