Last week I was on an introductory call with another leader at work and was helping them get grounded in their new role - I described one of the people who could help them as someone "on my favorite humans list". He stopped me, and said,
"What? Favorite Humans list?"
"Oh, sure - it’s a pretty selective list."
"How do you, I mean, what does it mean to, what do you have to do to get on your 'Favorite Humans' list?"
... what does it mean?!...
Subcontext - I've literally used this statement for years, usually at work. X person is on my 'Favorite Humans' list. Years. No one has ever asked what it means, what it takes to get it on it. But if you are on it. You are ON it. So, what does it mean!?
In that moment though, the meaning was absolutely clear.
Favorite Human Characteristics
Hardworking, Tenacious, Resilient.
Fearless, and Don Quixote about their willingness to try to solve problems impossible in magnitude.
Brilliant. Learners. Seekers.
Kind, Good, Servants - Others above self. Period. Full stop
In our conversation, I immediately rattled off these four characteristics.
He asked - "Do you have other sorts of lists? 'Clods of the Earth' list?" I laughed and said,"not really?! Just my 'Favorite Humans' list. Although if we want to make other lists, people come to mind. ;)"
After the call though, the conversation kept rolling around in my mind. I wanted to understand more deeply, what I had failed to consider for years. Why is this MY list? What does it mean?! I realized this list represents my values, who I strive to be, and who I am attempting to raise my kids to be. These values ground my purpose. This is sure.
But why THESE values? These are the humans this planet needs; I believe this deeply in my soul. We have such critical challenges - climate change, capital consumption, ethics in media, pandemics, injustices, etc - the list is long as you know. I believe these are the attributes of the humans who have the capacity to find solutions, craft a path forward, break through. Whether that breakthrough is in a small corner of a big corporation, or a big corner of a small community - these are the people on whom our future depends.
Why give them a NAME? Why name these values apparently for years, subconciously- 'Favorite Humans'? In naming them, it gives them an identity, and in identity, there is strength. In naming someone else, it helps me realize I am not alone. In seeing their action, observing their stewardship, hearing their voice - it gives me strength.
Why mentally tag people as my 'Favorite Humans'?! The people on my 'Favorite Humans' list is a selective group, but it isn't a short list. It's part of what I love about the work I do, and where I work - I can think of many of "Favorite Humans." I also realized that many of my friends fit these characteristics, many of the folks I coach and mentor. And so it turns out, the people on my 'Favorite Humans' list just happen to be those who have also demonstrated their awesomeness, but don't exist within these other closer circles of my life.
And I am left feeling blessed. A realization of what I am really saying when I use that term - My soul sees you and I appreciate who you are - I am blessed. The realization that I am actually surrounded by "Favorite Humans", those who are loving others liberally, risking willingly to change the system, applying all you have to the journey and your call - others above self with kindness - I am blessed. You are my favorite humans. Thankyou for being part of my journey, part of our journey. The realization that in seeing you, I am encouraged by you and strengthened by you.
However that has left me wondering a new set of questions - this is my list. What is your 'Favorite Human' list? Who is on it? What does that say to you?
And so, as we were closing the call, my colleague said, "Well ok. I now have a new life goal. I want to be on your 'Favorite Human' list." May also earn the right to be on his.