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Be There

Al Nixon spends almost every morning in Vinoy Park overlooking Tampa Bay. He sits on the same bench and watches the sunrise before going to work at the city’s water department.


Al noticed that he wasn’t alone in his morning routine. He’d see the same folks out for a walk or a run or a bike ride. He’d smile and nod at the regulars. Over time the smiles and nods turned into “hellos” and then into conversations.


Al is a constant. You can count on him to be on his bench most mornings.


That’s probably why so many people seek him out. He’s always there.


It’s not uncommon to find a line of people waiting to spend a few moments with Al. They just want to talk – to vent, to share, to be honest.


Al doesn’t claim to have anything to offer but his presence. He just wants to listen.


He was interviewed by the CBS Evening News a couple years back and said, “listening is the number one skill all mankind needs to know really well.”


Al has a line of people waiting to talk to him because so many are starved for a listening ear.


Al – as far as I know – has zero “credentials.” He’s just a guy that cares about people. He’s just a guy who is reliably there.


You don’t need any letters behind your name to be reliably there.


Al made a difference because he was a friend. He showed up. He was available. He listened. And he has changed lives (as reported by a number of people that spend time talking with Al).


Don’t make making a difference harder than it has to be.


Show up. Be available. Listen.

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