We touch the lives of others in ways we often never know.
People sometimes come into our personal world for fleeting
moments and can leave us forever changed. We have more power
to create or to destroy than we can imagine. We can leave
things or individuals better or worse than we found them. A
look, a word, a gesture has tremendous impact and frequently
we blither along through our existence unaware of the mighty
power that our communication wields.
Here’s an example:
It was a rainy, humid day: the mother of all bad hair days.
I was riding on a bus downtown to go to work. The windows
on the bus were covered in condensation so thick you
couldn’t see outside. Everyone was wilting. I was sitting
next to a man in a business suit and didn’t pay much
attention until we both got off at the same stop and walked
to the same newsstand to get a morning paper.
The man running the stand was obviously having a bad day.
He was rude, abrupt and unsmiling as we purchased our
papers, which served to only add more gloom to my day. The
businessman caught my eye and smiled. He then proceeded to
smile brightly, thank the newsstand proprietor for the paper
and for being open on such a morning to make sure we were
able to get our papers. In short, he expressed his
appreciation for something most of us would take for granted.
The man running the newsstand responded only with a grunt and
a sour expression. The businessman then pleasantly wished him
a pleasant day.
As we turned away, I asked this man why he had continued to
be pleasant to the newsman when he obviously didn’t care
about and didn’t respond to his expression of appreciation
and friendliness. The businessman grinned at me and said,
“Why would I let someone else control what I say and what I
feel or what kind of day I’m going to have?”
We then separated to go to our respective work places. To
this day, I don’t know who that business man was, where he
worked, or anything else about him. I never saw him again,
even though I looked for him on the bus on other days. He
appeared briefly in my life and disappeared just as quickly.
I don’t even remember what he looked like. But I’ve never
forgotten the words he said or the way his smile seemed
like a shaft of light on a gloomy day.
That was a good 25 years ago, but the impact this had on
my life has lasted. I never had a chance to thank him
personally, but the way in which I try to choose to look at
life as a result of those words is his legacy to me and my
thanks to him.
Our interactions with the people we encounter can impact at
least the next five people that person encounters. A smile
and words of simple appreciation multiply themselves
We cannot control people and situations that come to us,
but we can always control our response to them. And in
such positive decisions lie our control and personal power
to make a positive difference. And it’s something anyone
and everyone can do. It is a real legacy that can impact
both the present and the future.
This week’s story was submitted by Gail Pursell Elliott. Gail is President of Innovations Training With A Can-Do Attitude.