I left recently at 5:30am for the airport and as usual, started a conversation with my UBER driver. He told me he was Armenian and had emigrated from Bagdad about 20 years ago. His grandparents and great-grandparents were from Armenia, but during the Armenian genocide escaped to Iraq where the family started over and he grew up.
As a young adult he was working at a tire shop in Bagdad when one day a co-worker who knew he was a Christian threatened to expose him if he didn’t pay the co-worker a bribe. He told me that at the time, being a Christian was perilous in Bagdad and if his Christian faith became public he could be fired, end up in prison, and lose his family.
Not knowing what else to do, he went to the American Embassy, requested asylum, and to his surprise, it was granted. That’s when he brought his family to Los Angeles, and he eventually ended up in Burbank, where he and his wife raised their children.
And that particular morning, he drove me to the airport.
I sat in the back seat realizing that we rarely actually know the stories of the people around us, and yet how few times we take an interest or even start the conversation. Had I not asked him about his life, I would have completely missed that amazing story.
Especially for creative leaders and storytellers, we need to constantly be observing the world around us. We have to ask questions and see the things (and people) no one else notices.
The question is: What could we learn if we just simply opened those doors?