Who cleans your office?

It always struck me as a little odd. Every morning I try and get a workout in and then sit down at my desk to get the day started. I usually have a banana and some yogurt for breakfast. And usually at some point between 10-11 AM, someone comes into my office, grabs my garbage, and cleans it out. Takes away the banana peel and my yogurt cup and spoon.

I mean, I could have done that, right? I could grab the bag of garbage at the end of the day, take it outside with me and drop it in the dumpster before I get in my car. That’s essentially what we do at home, isn’t it?

Do you know his or her name? Do you ever have a conversation with them? Ask them their name, where they are from, if they have a family? This is someone that I see every day, who works at the same college as I do. They usually come in and maybe say a quick hello, and try somewhat nervously to stay out of the way (you know, us basketball coaches, we have very important work to do). We work at the same college, but we have very different jobs. We don’t engage in regular conversation about Villanova’s ball screen coverage or Creighton’s transition offense.

Do your players know who cleans up their locker room for them? Do they know their names? Somebody goes in there every night and vacuums, cleans the bathrooms, the showers, and mops the floor. I wonder how many of your players know the names of the people doing that.

My point is this – how often do we intentionally engage in conversation with people from different walks of life? And maybe the person cleaning your office isn’t from a different walk of life – you might have grown up together. Maybe they have a friend you went to school with. I don’t know. But think about others in your life – the person you buy your coffee from in the morning, the people who work in the cafeteria, the guy who drops off the mail, or the waitress at the local sandwich place. Maybe it’s the VP of the college who you see in the staff cafeteria. Maybe it’s the lacrosse coach. Do you get outside of your circle and really get to know people?

I don’t think we have to wait until Election Day to help bring about change. What can we change in our day to day lives? Have conversations with people who might be different than you. Get to know people you normally wouldn’t, because you don’t socialize them or see them outside of their place of work. Learn about them. Ask them questions. Create a dialogue with others who might have a different background and therefore a different perspective. Ask them how the events of the world are affecting them.

Tell your players that once a day they should introduce themselves to someone they don’t know. Have a conversation with them. Sit next to them in the cafeteria. We are preparing them to be leaders when they get out into the real world, right? Many of them can be more impactful change agents than we can at this point. Encourage that behavior, so everyone starts to learn a little more about the things that make us different.

Having conversations with people who may be from different backgrounds is one way to broaden our perspective. It can help bridge the gap between the differences we all have, and create better understanding. It’s something small, for sure, but something we can all do immediately. I know it’s something I can do a lot better. I want to understand people who are different than I am, to broaden my perspective. (By the way, Adam and Rui are the two guys who take care of my office).

Day to day, we can all help bridge the gap. Facebook posts, Zoom webinars and retweets are all great. But we can do more in our everyday life to help bring about change.

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