It is my privilege to introduce you to Mick! My encounter with Mick was truly extraordinary in that he managed to capture my attention like no other store employee has been able. In fact, Mick exhibits qualities so exemplary that if we all lived as he does, the world would be a much better place.
Strolling through the Mall of America with my mom, sister, niece, and three children, we passed a toy store called Air Traffic. My son and I were last to pass the store, so everyone else in our party was far ahead when my son pulled me back abruptly to go into the store. I quickly called out and suggested they join us.
We were greeted with a warm welcome by the employees, one being Mick. I answered Mick’s inquiry as to how I was doing today with some generic, in a hurry to get out of this store kind of answer like “just fine, thank you!” (Remember Meet Dan? Clearly I had NOT fully learned my lesson about engaging people authentically around the question “How are you doing?!”) This was when Mick first caught my attention, questioning “Aren’t you going to ask how I am?” Smiling sheepishly, I responded “How are you doing today?” He responded, satisfied I thought, that he reminded me to be more fully present that moment.
An employee engaged me and my two oldest children in a game of Blue Orange Chef Cuckoo! and we headed to the back of the store where my son had discovered a plethora of yo-yos.
See, the reason I decided to go into the store that day was because my son showed such strong interest in the toys. He loves fishing, golfing, balls, Nerf dart guns, and screen time aplenty, but through the years we have had a challenge finding toys that keep his interest. When he was four it was Transformers, kindergarten Pokemon cards, first grade Bakugan, second and third grade baseball cards, and spatterings of interest in legos through the years. We just wanted him to love and have fun with toys. A couple months prior, a yo-yo master’s performance at our childrens’ school wowed our son to the extent that he and other boys purchased trick yo-yos. He had a very strong interest in yo-yos, but also had very low tolerance when the yo-yo did not perform as expected. It had become disconcerting to us as parents to know he was so interested in yo-yos, but was on the other hand getting so extremely frustrated every time he tried. So many times he had tried that yo-yo only to throw it down and quit in frustration because it “wasn’t working.”
Mick approached. I explained to him we were interested in looking more closely at yo-yos because of my son’s strong interest and frustration with his yo-yo.
Mick took time to ask if I was mom or sister of my three kids. Although on my way to 40 and an old soul, I have passed for a teenager countless times the past 15 years. I am used to people thinking I am much younger than I am, but am typically offended because I desire the respect that comes with being perceived as the full-fledged adult that I am. In any case, it was honorable for him to ask if I was mom or sister, a truly unique way of inquiring about my age and relationship to my children!
Mick picked a couple yo-yos off the shelf and put one on the counter next to my daughter. He asked if she wanted to try, stating “I’m going to put one here in case you decide you want to have some fun!” My daughter silently rejected his offer and left the yo-yo right where he had placed it on the counter. Mick observed and said a matter-of-fact “It’s ok, some people don’t want to have fun.” Many talk about enjoyment of life as a choice, this man lived it out in that moment. Choose to have fun, or choose not to have fun. It’s your choice.
Committing to us much more time than necessary, Mick showed us a variety of yo-yos, demonstrating tricks with each one. The store carried the yo-yo my son had; Mick suggested a yo-yo that would be more appropriate for a beginner but would still allow him to do tricks. At the sales counter Mick greeted my sister, complimented her tattoo, and shared with us information about upcoming yo-yo classes as well as a yo-yo championship at the mall the next day.
After purchasing the yo-yo, we left the store and my son immediately took the yo-yo out of its packaging. He spent the next hour trying it out, attempting a few tricks Mick showed us in the store, but quickly became frustrated to the point he felt confident it needed to be returned right now!
Disappointed this wasn’t going to work, I reluctantly returned to the store, son and yo-yo in hand. I found Mick, explained the yo-yo just wasn’t working out as my son expected, and that it looked like we were going to have to return it. Mick caught my attention again, this time even more dramatically by putting the problem back on himself. “Oh it’s my fault. I forgot to show you how to tighten and loosen the string. If we do this, then it should work a lot better for you.” Mick made some “adjustments” and tested the yo-yo to ensure it was indeed working properly, but my son persisted it needed to be returned.
Resigned to the fact this yo-yo “needed” to be returned, Mick and I met at the counter and he began processing the return. Another employee noticed we were back so soon and wondered why we had to return the yo-yo. Holding back tears of disappointment that my son was once again crushing his own dream of learning to yo-yo, I was taken aback when Mick responded nonchalantly to his co-worker, “Yep, it didn’t work out for him today.” I just LOVED the way this man so casually stated the yo-yo didn’t work out today. As if there were so many more activities to discover and become passionate about another day, as if the yo-yo didn’t work this day but might some other day, as if it was no big deal at all. No emotion attached, no worry, no cares, no judgement. It just didn’t work out today, that’s all. Wow, if I could only approach life like Mick, I wouldn’t be disappointed nearly as often and wouldn’t be so anxious about things turning out “right.”
That night, I told my husband the story of Mick and this yo-yo. I knew we had to return the next day for the yo-yo competition and check out the store one more time.
24-hours later, entire family in tow, we returned to the Mall of America to watch the Midwest Regional Yo-Yo Championship. Rotunda packed, yo-yo performances one after the next. Almost immediately, we happened upon Mick at a table of yo-yos. Brave with the opportunity, I approached, explained how he had impacted me so much the day before and asked if I could feature him on my blog. He agreed, but humbly explained that yo-yos just scratch the surface of who he is. He performs with a group called The Danger Committee. You know…he throws knives, juggles and throws a little fire in there for some extra fun! He suggested we should come and check it out sometime. I smiled, curious of course, but honestly having no clue as to what I would discover about this later.
We stepped to the back, observing the yo-yo masters perform. I couldn’t help but think…what if I adopted Mick’s philosophy of embracing what was and realized that for this moment in time, it was OK to just observe? I let myself relax a bit, observed my son as he watched the yo-yo masters. Maybe one day he will want to try yo-yos, but for today, it’s OK just to watch.
One more visit to the store, we picked up a cool frisbee which has caused enjoyment rather than frustration.
Two weeks later, I finally got around to checking The Danger Committee’s website to discover there was much more to Mick than met the eye. The Danger Committee, comprised of Mick and two others, has made multiple national television appearances including advancement to top 100 of 75,000 acts on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and performs at theaters, festivals and corporate events around the country. Mick has been a performer and keynote speaker for two decades, speaking to hundreds of companies across the United States, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and England. He has won or placed in international juggling competitions fifteen times. For Mick’s full bio, click here.
I had NO clue who I had encountered that day. I love Mick’s humility and the fact he didn’t brag about who he was beyond his employment at the toy store. I love his attention to the moment, his matter-of-fact attitude, kindness, his patience and passion, and the way he went above and beyond with us in the store that day. I have no idea what Mick speaks about, nor have I ever witnessed The Danger Committee’s performances, but based on everything I learned about Mick’s personal character that day, I have to believe it’s all phenomenal.
Thank you Mick. I am honored to have met you.
So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you…” Matthew 7:12