Beyond the Build

Beyond the Build

Sitting Outside Your Comfort Zone

You have probably seen the PSAs on television, the ones that show a child sitting alone at lunch. Years ago, when my parents moved our family to a new city, there were times that I felt a little bit like that boy. While everyone was certainly nice to me, they all had their buddies of many years and sat together at the lunch table. Funny, looking back now, I’ve often wondered if their ancestors had all come over on the Mayflower and the Santa Maria, and all the families had stuck together through the generations.

I have never forgotten that feeling, and now I always try to sit outside my comfort zone, reaching out to someone I have never met. Recently, at a TEDx conference, I followed my routine and made my way over to sit with an older lady, different from me in many ways, who I did not know. It turned out I was the one who benefitted from our meeting.

As we visited over our boxed lunches, I shared that our company had restored the Lyric Theatre, and her face lit up. Her son, an actor, had purchased an aging theatre near their home and is committed to restoration. She asked if we could get her son into The Lyric the next time he came to town. I was glad to help.

It turns out her son is Andre Holland, a truly accomplished actor, and I was fortunate to coordinate the theatre tour a few weeks later when he came in from New York.

The next time you have the chance, try sitting outside your comfort zone. I’ve met some of the most interesting people I know this way, and you will as well. My promise.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.