Change your seat
"Most people sit and expect life to come to them. Change your seat and you will come to life."
by David J. Pollay
I think everyone in life should be known for at least one quote. I think I finally have mine. I'd like to share it with you, but first let me tell you a story.
Seven years ago I was in downtown San Francisco attending a three-day leadership conference. I had driven up from the Bay Area that morning. I was a senior director at Yahoo! at the time.
I arrived a few minutes early and there must have been one hundred people in the room. Lots of people had already taken their seats, and others were drinking coffee at the back of the room. But, all had staked a claim on a seat for the day. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for the only open seat in the room. It was four tables from the front, and the second seat from the left.
Like most seminars, the conference leader had us work in small groups, giving us a chance to meet the people around us. The session was good, and it was interesting to talk with the people around our table.
The second day of the conference I decided to leave the house a little earlier. I remembered that the day before, there was only one seat left when I arrived, so I figured I'd get there a little early so I could sit in another part of the room. The roads were pretty clear that morning, so I arrived about 30 minutes ahead of time.
I went up to the right side of the room this time, and put my bag down on the third table from the front, fourth seat to the right of the middle aisle. I thought it would be a good idea to meet some new people and get their perspective on what we were learning. I headed back for coffee.
I started chatting with different people as you do at conferences like this. With about fifteen minutes or so before the start of the session, I noticed that people seemed to be heading back to the same seats they were in yesterday. I thought it was a bit curious, but I kept to my coffee and conversation. Then with about five minutes to go I noticed that everyone I had sat next to yesterday was sitting in the same spot. A few minutes later I headed to my seat, sat down, and looked around. And guess what? Everyone in the room was in the same seat as they were on day one, that is, except two people: me, and a very unhappy young lady who was sitting in my seat from the day before!
Out of 100 people, I was the only one who changed his seat on purpose!
As I planned, I met very interesting people around my new table. I had another good day.
Day three comes and I stick with my plan from the day before; I leave early. This time traffic is pretty bad; I get caught in a bumper to bumper jam that eats up all my "arrive early" time.
With about five minutes to go I run up the hotel stairs and turn into our meeting room. And what do I see? Everyone in the room is back in the same seat they chose on day one, including the unhappy young woman from yesterday, who was smiling at me as I settled into my original seat. She had the grin of victory all over her face. I couldn't believe it! Everyone was so proud of themselves for keeping their original seat!
It was at that moment I learned something about most people. People seem to enjoy staying in the same seat. They don't like change. People would rather give up trying new things for the comfort of what they know.
So now it's time for my big quote. Here it is: "Most people sit and expect life to come to them. I say, change your seat and you will come to life."
Be willing to change your perspective. Be open to new ideas. Be interested in other people. Move around.
The most successful people I know are constantly challenging themselves. They talk to people with different ideas. They try new things. Unfortunately, a lot of people avoid exploring. They're like the guy who once told me in New York City, "I never eat below 14th street!" Can you imagine living in New York and excluding Greenwich Village, Soho, and Tribeca from your options?! A lot of people do this type of thing in life. They limit themselves.
So my question to you today is, "where are you sitting?" Better than that, "are you going to change your seat?"