Sunday, June 21, 2015

Small gesture, big impact

I hope you’re doing well!  Last week, I shared the importance of surrounding yourself with great people.  You are the product of the five people you spend the most time with.  So, I have been thinking about how to be nice to people around me, and to be remembered for being good.  

Do you ever think back to a co-worker or a classmate from many years ago?  Or do they just fade into dark corners of forgotten memory?

On the Road to Work

I drive on a two lane road with a wide median to work.  This morning, I saw a man crossing the street to get to a bus stop.  He had crossed half way and stood at the median as a long row of cars kept driving.  This man stood in the middle looking both ways, apparently dazed by the passing cars.  

I stopped to let him walk the remaining half to the bus stop.  At first, he hesitated and then looked my way.  After waving a hand, he started to walk.  As he walked, he first pointed a finger at me in recognition, then gave a double thumbs up, arms raised high.

Was he really that excited and surprised that someone had stopped to let him pass?  (Apparently, people in my city don’t know the rules of right of way for pedestrians.  Sadly, South tends to be rather regressive when it comes to things like this.)

A small gesture can make someone’s day.  This gleeful pedestrian made me think about how just few, small things can make the difference between happiness and misery, whether in public or private life.  Small big things.

Be Memorable, Be Vulnerable

In my book How to be Happy: 12 Powerful Steps, I talked about a Daily Values List.  Unlike the todo list, this list does not get crossed off.  Rather, it’s an aspirational list, a list of reminders to help me be a better person.  An item on that list is “be vulnerable.”  Another item is “be better than yesterday.”

One of my goals at my new work is to be genuinely good to people around me.  Of course, I’m always courteous.  But, do I really care about people who are basically strangers outside of work?  The other day, I was talking to “V,” who is a summer intern in our marketing group.  It turns out she got married the prior weekend.  As far as I could tell, there was no group celebration about this news.  The next day, I grabbed a little card and wrote a congratulatory message and shared how glad I was that she was on the team.

Her response: Thank you SO MUCH for the card! That was amazingly sweet and I love the stationary.

What small item on your list will give you a big return?  What small gesture you make will make someone smile?  I believe in making someone else smile, you will, too.  

Much of what we think about career accomplishments tends to be focused on skills or tasks.  You often find tips about how to be more productive.  Certainly, today’s dynamic and complex economy demands high skills and productivity.  Still, beyond the techniques and processes, all work is done with and through people.


What small action can you take today to make someone’s day?  (And in turn make yours.)

I’d love to hear about your little big thing.

Further Reading

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