Earlier this week, my friend Norma Doiron shared this with me:
“Every one of us is either a plus or a minus in people’s lives,” says John C. Maxwell. The positive people usually know it — wake up each day and consider, “Who can I add value to today? It’s an intentional lifestyle…”
And it got me thinking about how easy it really is to make a difference in other people’s lives.
IF you live intentionally.
With most things in life, we get feedback. And we’re usually motivated by some external outcome.
We publish a newsletter for our clients because they will read it, benefit from it, and do business with us. We fix dinner because we’ll hear about (and potentially feel bad) if we don’t. We excel at work so that we’ll get a promotion or a raise. And so on.
To make a difference in someone’s life requires intentionality because it often comes without much, or any, feedback.
Let me share a story with you.
A couple of weeks ago I was at the baseball game with my kids, who are 3, 4, and 7 years old. My boys (3 and 4) were anxious to see the fireworks, a St. Louis Cardinals’ tradition when a player hits a home run. My 3-year-old, Justin, had asked the man sitting in front of us where the fireworks were before the game even began.
When the first home run came, of course the crowd came to its feet. I lifted Justin up in the air so he could clearly see what he came for.
When the next home run came, we had just returned with food. My hands were full of nachos and ice cream as everyone around us stood up. The man in front of us, who was on a “guys’ night out” with three of his friends, had been tolerant and friendly to my overly social little ones.
Seeing my predicament, he lifted Justin up high so that he could again experience the colorful night sky.
The experience lasted less than 60 seconds. But no less than a dozen times since then, Justin had told me about how “that man lifted me up in the sky.” His memory of that small gesture is so vivid and important to him.
I have some regret that I’ll never be able to share with this stranger how he was able to make a difference to my 3-year-old that night.
And so too can YOU make a difference . . .
The sparkle in Justin’s eyes when he tells me about the man makes me think about times when a stranger smiled at me at just the right time, or a friend extended a helping hand just when I needed it most. Even among friends and family, these small gestures go unnoticed or at least unrecognized.
There’s generally no external reward for small and often random acts of kindness. Which is why it requires an intentional practice.
Always striving to be a “plus” to everyone you encounter can make someone’s day. It can help someone change her life if done consistently. It can establish you as someone people just feel good being around.
The benefits to the other person are clear. And while such service to others is motivation enough to work to make a difference, you will find that the benefits to your personal life as well as your business make it worth the small effort.