What a High-Five Taught Me

Couple high fiving at their wedding

A high-five changed my life and I fully believe it can change your life, too.

Eight years ago, I was at a work conference –­ one of those conferences where everyone sits with only people that they know and then someone with far too much energy announces that it is time to get out of your chair and “break the ice.” We’ve all been there! The speaker exclaimed, “Go give a high-five to five people and the fifth person you give a high-five to, sit next to them.”

Everyone got up and…






My high-fives should have stopped with this fifth person, but it didn’t because he kept walking, so I had to find one more.


This time I spoke up and said, “You are my fifth person!”

Fast forward seven years and that person is now my wife. I will never forget how my life was changed by a high-five.

But how does that affect you?

High-fives are intoxicating for me and I do them all the time. I know they aren’t for everyone and I don’t expect to create a high-five movement across the world (though that would be spectacular), but below are four practical things I learned.

  1. Stepping out of your comfort zone is tough, I know, but meeting people is neat. Geez, I wonder how many times you’ve heard that before? A thousand or so? I know it’s difficult and maybe for you it’s a small step each time you are in a new group. Start by talking to one new person at an event, then two, then three, and so on. It is easy to be overwhelmed at conferences or networking events and it may seem easier to blend in, but it’s crucial that you leave your comfort zone. Embracing the silliness of it all allowed me to meet a lot of people, many of whom I keep in touch with.
  2. It’s OK to Fail. The fifth person I gave a high-five to kept walking and I just stood around a bit befuddled, then I realized, I wasn’t his fifth person and I didn’t communicate appropriately. The next time I knew what not to do – i.e. don’t just stand there. It is OK to fail, in fact, I encourage failure because it allows us to learn what not to do the next time we are faced with similar circumstances.
  3. You can learn something from everyone. Always be open to learning something from whomever you meet, no matter how small it is. Everyone has something to share. Engage and you may be pleasantly surprised.
  4. It is OK to embrace silliness. Trust me, at 8:00 a.m., I didn’t want to give high-fives, I wanted to drink coffee. I embraced it because if everyone else was giving high-fives, I didn’t want to be the, “too cool for school guy.” It is OK to step-out of your normal social bubble and embrace some silliness.


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