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Own Your Life

One of the great sacrifices of subjecting kids to school is that it trains them to ask for permission for everything, from turning in work late, to changing to a different class, to more mundane things like going to the bathroom. It's a tradeoff, of course: condition kids to seek permission for everything, and by doing so enable a system to exist where they receive an education.

Maybe that's a worthwhile tradeoff, and maybe it's not. But the real harm in it, in my opinion anyway, is that when we leave school, we're still in the habit of asking permission for everything. That's dangerous.

A manifestation of this that I come across with frequently is the questions that people send me by email. Here's a paraphrased template, which covers a good 60%+ of the emails I get from strangers:

5 Ways to Talk to Strangers

On Mike Dariano

I hated medical school. Well, that might be an overstating it. I didn't even go to medical school. I hated going out to bars with my wife while she was in medical school because everyone got really drunk and talked about medical school. This was before any of our peers were married and I was the lone spouse. Mostly I drank beer and offered a courteous laugh.

Back then my social muscle wasn't well defined. I didn't know how to talk to people even though I've been talking to people my whole life. I knew how to talk to friends and family but not strangers. Think about our lives, my guess is that 95% of your conversations are with people you know and see regularly. Work, church, family, rinse, and repeat. I was the same way and hated it so it was time to change.

The idea is to get people talking about themselves. People will say anything about their hobbies, interests and history. I once spent five minutes explaining to someone's mother the importance of holding a force when going upwind in ultimate frisbee. Is that Greek to you? It was to her.

I wish I had known these things ten years ago but what in life isn't like that. What do you and I know now that we didn't know then? The answer is everything. All we can do is make sure we don't spend another 10 years making that same mistake.

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