If you met me today you would probably describe me as warm, welcoming, huggable, soft, squishy even. This hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when if you were to choose a word to describe me you probably would have chosen intimidating, aloof, closed, hard and cold. You see my way of protecting myself, of projecting confidence of any kind, was to appear to be better than you.

It’s the ultimate joke, right?

Be confident to get out there and make some friends, meet new people. Do this by being aloof and shutting them out. Then complain of being lonely and shut off from people. Worst idea ever! But effective in terms of never having to expose who I really was. Too bad too because who I was was awesome.

Then one day at a course I attended we were stood in two rows facing each other. We stood, looking each other in the eye for minutes before shifting along the line. It did something for me. I learnt to look people in the eye that day. I learnt a lot about trusting people and being with people. I learnt to connect with them. I got that people weren’t that scary, not really. So I started to look people in the eye and smile. Bit by bit the wall around me crumbled. I felt it, people around me felt it. Then one day a new friend said how much he adored being around me. I was taken aback and asked WHY!? He said ‘You just have the welcoming, warmth thing going on, I love it’. And I cried.

Literally. Cried.

That wall was down, my heart out there and who I am was finally on display. I had done it! I was the happiest kid on earth. I had learnt a valuable lesson about connecting with people, allowing them in. I never forgot that lesson and remind myself of it when I start to shut people out.

Which brings me to today’s challenge. Head up. Stop looking at the floor. Today you’re going to look people in the eye. Making eye contact is something that is of great value to people. I don’t mean that awkward eye contact where you feel like you’re under a laser beam but enough for the other person to know that they matter to you. So get out there you and show people those peepers and ultimately, who you really are.

Daily challenge: Make eye contact today in your conversations. Tell us how you go!