This doesn't have anything to do with careers (though Göran was one of the most passionate people I have ever met), but I wanted to share it anyway...
One year ago today, the world lost an incredible gift when Göran Kropp died in a rock climbing accident.
Göran was best known for bicycling from Sweden to Nepal, climbing Everest solo with no oxygen, and then bicycling home again. While his larger than life achievements continue to be an inspiration, Göran's biggest impact on me came elsewhere.
From Göran, I learned what an incredible opportunity we have to make the world a better place for the people around us, simply by the way we engage them.
Göran had a gift for making everyone he came in contact with feel great. Everybody he met was suddenly his best friend. He was so present when he talked to people, and really focused on them. When you talked to Göran, you came away feeling important.
I saw it when I first met him as he sat signing books and posters after a presentation about his Everest trip. I saw it with random people he met out climbing, or at a party. I experienced it myself.
He had a robust joy for life that you just couldn't help but catch. And you couldn't help but feel better about yourself and your world after talking to him.
That was the biggest lesson I learned from Göran. After he died, I started being conscious of how every interaction I had gave me the opportunity to change someone's world, however incrementally. I started engaging people more consciously. I started purposefully showing more interest in them, and what they had to say. Even if it was something as mundane as an interaction with the checker at the grocery store.
I started asking myself, what impact did talking to me have on someone? Did they feel better - maybe because they came away laughing, or because somebody had really paid attention to them? Were they indifferent? Did they feel worse - maybe because I had been in a bad mood and let that show in how I treated them?
I started expanding that idea, even to other drivers on the highway. I tried to maximize the positive impact I had in any interaction, and minimize the negative.
As a result I found that not only did it have an effect on others, it had an effect on me. I felt better too.
Göran's accomplishments left a legacy of inspiration for thousands of people around the world. For me, at least, he also left the legacy of realizing what a difference I could make once I just started being aware of it.
I hope I can pass that legacy on. The next time you meet someone new, or go through the checkout line in the grocery store, or even next time you get together with a friend, ask yourself, does this person's world feel even just a little bit better after talking to me?
Because it could. The power to change the world is in your hands.
- curt rosengren
You can also see something I wrote the day I found out about Göran's death at http://www.rosengren.net/goran.htm .