I lost my aunt a year ago. Since my whole family is small (there are only 14 of us) we saw each other weekly and had dinner together often. My aunt was a second mom.
In the months following, I distracted myself at school with classes and extracurriculars so I didn’t have to think about her death. But as the semester ended, there were no classes or club meetings to turn to.
In the month I spent at home, I never got over that I wouldn’t have another chance to enjoy a bowl of pho with my aunt, play cards with her, or ask for her favorite recipes.
Last summer, my friend Casper recommended that I read Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way. Casper has never recommended me a book I didn’t enjoy or recommend to others. I ordered The Obstacle is the Way that same day and read it as soon as it came in the mail.
The Obstacle is the Way applies the philosophy of stoicism (a school of thought on how we can become better human beings and live more fulfilled lives) to modern living. The main message is to view the obstacles in our lives as opportunities to grow instead of threats that make us feel defeated. Ryan draws from historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln who saw his early political defeats as learning opportunities and prepare him for when he was president and cultural figures such as a before-famous George Clooney who would walk into auditions with the mindset that his judges wanted him to succeed.
After I read Ryan’s book, I started reading works by other stoics such as Letters from a Stoic (a selection of letters written from the stoic Seneca on enjoying the pleasures of a short life and enduring with dignity the burdens of misfortune) and Mediation (Marcus Aurelius’s personal thoughts on how to live with dignity and handle personal tragedies). The more I read, the more I began adopting the thinkings of the ancient stoics; I even picked up mediating in the morning as a habit.
Now when I start thinking about my aunt. I think about the times I did get to spend with her instead the times I won’t. I think about the bowls of pho we did have, the Saturday nights we did play poker, and the recipes I still use today. I still tear up when I think about her, in fact even as I am writing this, but the tears now come with thoughts of happiness.
Connecting with Ryan
Reading Ryan’s book helped me through a hard time in my life and in the process I found myself connected to his writing and intellectual knowledge. I signed up for his monthly newsletters.
I think it would be enriching to be able to sit down with him one day (more ambitious, regularly) and discuss our favorite books, thoughts, and goals.
Reaching out to Ryan
I am reaching out to Ryan to recommend a book he would like since he loves reading and in the process, I hope we’ll start an exchange of knowledge sharing, but more emphasis on the former.
I receive Ryan’s list of book recommendations through his monthly newsletter. This month, one of his recommended books was Letters to His Son, which I have right now. I used it as a reason to connect with Ryan.
I went back through Ryan’s recommended book list on his website and looked for books that weren’t mentioned that I enjoyed reading. I figure he wouldn’t mind a good recommendation himself. He really loves history (the Civil War in particular) and philosophy (stoicism).
I recently finished reading the Irony of American History - philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr’s views on how to the U.S. government should be led using many examples from history. I sent Ryan a quick email this week with my recommendation – Ryan uses his personal email to send out his monthly recommendations so that is now I got his email.
How to Connect with Someone with Common Interests
If you want to connect with someone who you know shares a common interest with you (a hobby, passion, or association), figure out a way how you can enhance the way they enjoy the common interest you share.
- Make a recommendation on how they enjoy the hobby more
- Offer to join them (if this would add value to their enjoyment and experience)
- Refer them to someone who also enjoys the hobby who they would be interested in meeting.
This week, I will be reaching out to John Cena, 15-time WWE World Champion and Make-a-Wish Foundation’s record holder for most wishes granted (over 450).
My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.
Want to join me and reach out to your role models? You can get details for the 7-Day CWA Challenge below.