Powerful and lucky manners for a new year

I am a community organizer. I work at meeting and gathering people (and their concerns and wishes) and motivating them to take action for a better tomorrow. Perhaps that’s why I notice social details like manners.

How I introduce myself to others is a tool and it affects how willing they are to collaborate and thus, how successful I am at building power. My manners also reflect my values. I believe that with every greeting and introduction I am helping to create a world that is more welcoming, inclusive and generous, and ultimately, more just and fun.

That is why it bothers me when we don’t take the time to introduce ourselves in social settings. And even more when we don’t introduce those that are with us, so that we all know each other. We don’t perceive the opportunities possible with every introduction. That person might become your partner, colleague, relative o friend. Many times that is what “good luck” is all about and what sociologists are studying in the science of luck.

One dynamic that affects your luck is the importance of weak social ties, in other words your network and how you work it.1 Perhaps your siblings don’t have a lead for that job you want. However, you might have a higher probability through the girlfriend of your cousin o your barber’s brother-in-law. It’s not that these people are closer to you; it’s that they have a different social circle than yours with new opportunities. The important thing is to let folks know what you are looking for.

It’s also important to have an open attitude to take advantage of opportunities that come up when you meet someone new. A business book2 interviewed many entrepreneurs that attributed good luck to their success. They found that had some personality traits in common like humility, intellectual curiosity and optimism. I would add a sense of mutuality and the awareness of our interdependence.

I know that it’s a tiny thing but being mindful to introduce ourselves has individual and collective repercussions. In fact, beyond the individual benefits when we introduce ourselves we are creating the opportunity to know each other beyond the stereotypes, to recognize our shared humanity. This understanding would change our world and the lack of justice in it. It reminds me of the way Maya communities conceive of the universe as “one great unit where everything is related”3 and is expressed in the Mayan phrase “In lak’ech, Hala ken que” literally translated as “I am another you, like you are another me.” When we introduce ourselves we are no longer strangers, if ever we were.

1 http://time.com/5191284/how-luck-happens-excerpt/

2 https://hbr.org/2012/07/the-secrets-to-building-a-luck.html

3 https://www.excelsior.com.mx/blog/camino-ligero/lakech/1258541