Relationships & the Power to Change Your Life - Cup # 19 with Sam Murray!

I had never been out this way on the Central line – in fact, I had never really spent much time in East London at all. A rather interesting realization to have as the train made it way onwards to South Woodford, where I would meet Sam Murray for the 19th cup of tea on my journey to 100.

Twitter had brought Sam to me, or well, me to Sam – if I am being precise about it. I had seen some tweets flying around about tea and conversation and thought I might add my thoughts on the matter – I am becoming a bit of an expert on the subject you know...

Initially, Sam seemed to have misinterpreted my interjection, and fired back with something fairly negative in nature. I was taken back slightly – after all, my intentions with all of this are genuinely positive. I remained hopeful that I might explain myself to Sam, to let him know about my project with the hope that he might give me another chance to throw some thoughts and ideas around. Thankfully, he came around - and after taking a look at the website, seemed interested to meet, apologetic even, of his initial reaction to my comments.

Sam was waiting nervously at South Woodford for my arrival. He had admitted his tendency to keep to himself, to work within his comfort zone. Being as social as having a cup of tea with a complete stranger requires doesn't come easy. I know all to well the roller coaster of emotions that we ride as a result. The worry that you won't get along. That you might not have anything interesting to talk about. That the other person my misinterpret your intentions! There seems to be an endless list of possible reasons why this could go wrong, why meeting a stranger for tea might be a bad idea. For Sam, meeting me was definitely a step out of the ordinary, and while all of this is becoming more and more ordinary for me, I was happy I could provide him with the opportunity.

Sam was an interesting fella. Works as a bookmaker – though, not the shady, illegal type. Enjoys music and a good night out. Seems he has been on his own a while, and that can be a tough thing to take on at a young age. I'd say he's done well though – he seems happy. More important than that though, he seems convinced of his ability to achieve something more in life. I'm not sure how he'll feel about me saying this when he reads it. I'm not even sure he'd agree. But I'm sure I caught a glimpse of it. He'd probably describe himself as a bit of a cynic, in fact. But there is a positivity about the guy that didn't come from his words themselves – more from the way he said them. His easy going nature was comforting. He seemed completely willing to accept the things that are, but understanding of the fact that each of us has the power to change the things that will be – if we should wish to do so.

Sam is in the process of starting up an Internet gaming company. It's still early in the game for Sam, but as he shared his thoughts with me, I couldn't help but feel convinced that he is on the right track. Starting small is the key. You may be nowhere near where you'd like to end up, but any step is a step in the right direction – a step closer to being wherever it is that you want to be. He will build a client base, develop the game further, enabling him to offer more to his users. As the gamers invest more into him, he will be able to invest more back into the company – helping him to improve the gaming experience continuously. This relationship between him and the game's users is an incredibly powerful one – Sam knows this. What's funny though is that it certainly doesn't apply simply to Sam's business plan. It applies to life – every aspect of it. It applies to the 18 others I have met for tea thus far, and it will apply to the 81 people I have yet to meet. It applies to my friends back home in Canada, to my parents, to your parents, to their parents...

And it applies to you too...

Relationships are one of the single most important aspects of our lives. Heck, they might even be the most important. Consider your own life. Consider the relationships in it. You build and maintain them in every area of your daily life. At work, at school, at home – with friends, with colleagues, with girls and with boys. With bosses, and with clients. With family, and with yourself. And with strangers too.

My conversation with Sam got me thinking quite a bit about relationships and how the relationships in our lives help us shape our future. We are defined, in part, by the relationships we keep - by our willingness to invest ourselves in one another. Through these investments, we acquire the power to create change for ourselves and those around us. Think about it for a moment. Think about your job. By building and maintaining positive relationships at work, you move yourself into a position to do and earn more. Think about romantic relationships. We nurture those with the hope that they will one day lead us to starting a family. And I don't think I need to highlight the returns that come from investing in your close friends and family!

So whats to say then that investing some time and energy in a complete stranger cannot lead to a worthwhile return? I believe the correct answer to that questions is nothing... nothing at all.

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