Someone is waiting at the cross walk

Someone is waiting to cross the street. The person is standing there as traffic streams by both directions. There may or may not be a cross walk there. Or that person is on a bicycle, also waiting. You’re in your car and you see the person. You may or may not know if they’ve been waiting a while or just got there. What do you do?

While I was waiting on the cross-walk of the Norwottuck Rail Trail, someone stopped for me in one direction, the side I was closest to. We could make eye contact. I waved in thanks to him and started across the street. Seeing that car stopped, the next car coming in the other direction then slowed and stopped, allowing me to fully cross. I carried on, a little more inspired about the human race, at least on that sunny Sunday morning.

That’s how influence works. One act of generosity influences/shames another person to also be generous. Norms – unspoken standards of behavior – are created constantly throughout the day based on where we are and who we are with. The airport has norms, the airplane has norms, the subway or train has norms. The rush hour traffic in New Jersey has norms. We are – unconsciously – what those around us repeatedly are.

And when someone sets a higher standard, in this case as simple as delaying his journey 30 seconds, it influences another driver in a different vehicle to do the same. 

Behavior is contagious, emotions are contagious. 

So, going back to the first paragraph. You’re in the car. What do you do? What norm will you choose to live by? What influence do you want to be on your world?

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