The other day I made a quick stop at the grocery store; and as most of you know, there’s really no such thing as a quick stop. Lines are long, there are too many people walking slowly in front of you, or there aren’t not enough check-out lines open. As I rushed around the store quickly trying to gather what I needed, I noticed a man in front of me. He was different from everyone else in the store. He had a smile on his face, a spring in his step, and he was singing. My attitude was changed instantly just from walking next to him. I couldn’t help but smile and feel good. He noticed me as I was checking out the Hostess shelf (I was stressed and I needed chocolate!). He said with a big smile on his face, “You don’t want to eat that stuff.” I tried to justify it with the fact that I was only going to purchase the low-fat products. I noticed that his cart was filled with fresh veggies and other unprocessed food. Enthusiastically, he told me that he’s preparing for an annual event that he calls “Fried Friday.” His family gets together on this annual event, and he spends the entire day cooking for them. “Everything from scratch,” he said. He asked me when the last time was that I ate homemade french fries. I told him that it’s been a while. He smiled and told me that I couldn’t come. I laughed and wished him the best.
My attitude was changed instantly because I caught what this gentleman was projecting! It’s powerful to instantly help change someone’s state of mind. I know that this gentleman is not aware of the difference he made in my life. He helped me to change my perspective and enjoy my day. Now when I get stressed, I think about him, and it puts a smile on my face.
Often we drift through life not knowing how many lives we’ve touched and made a positive life-long impact on. Think about the thousands of people you’ve come in contact with over your lifetime. How many of them have you offered a smile, a kind word, or a kind gesture to? It’s amazing how some of the smallest things that we do in our everyday life mean a great deal to others – sometimes helping them to change their lives.
Teachers are a great example of how kind words, a sympathetic ear, a caring glance, or a smile can help change a person’s life. I recently interviewed a group of eighth grade students and asked them who has inspired them to achieve more or feel good about themselves. Many of them stated that it was one teacher in their school. I asked them specifically what this one teacher has done for them. Their response – she says nice things and smiles. It makes us feel that she likes her job, likes being with us, and that she really believes in us. Some of the students recalled quotes such as seize the day that their teachers told them. The students stated that they’ll remember the quotes throughout their entire lives.
Robert Orr raised thousands of dollars to help find a cure for AIDS. Who did he pay tribute to for helping him help thousands of other people? A person whose words stills ring strongly in his years – a teacher who believed in him and gave him the opportunity to work on a school project when everyone else laughed at him. Robert said that teacher gave him the strength to turn his life away from drugs and build a successful business and life for himself.
Les Brown, author of Live Your Dreams, motivates millions of people around the world today, helping them to make positive changes and reach for their dreams in spite of their obstacles. Les speaks profoundly about the one person who made a difference in his life – Mr. Leroy Washington, his teacher. What did Mr. Washington do? In school Les was labeled educable mentally retarded. One day Mr. Washington asked Les to write something on the board. Les said: I can’t do that. I’m educable mentally retarded! Mr. Washington said: Never say that again! Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality!
It’s amazing to look at the chain reaction that happens when one person’s life is changed forever. Robert Orr’s life was changed by something very simple someone did for him, now many other lives have been changed because of Robert. Les Brown’s life was changed by a few words, now he helps millions of people to make positive changes in their lives. Where does the chain reaction of lives being changed stop? It doesn’t – the chain reaction carries on for generations!
I recently received a call from a school guidance counselor. He called to let me know how much he enjoyed my radio show and particularly a quote that I read on air. It was a quote by W. Mitchell – “It not what happens to us in life that matters, it’s what we do about what happens to us.” He said the day after my program he was speaking with a student who was going through some tough times. He shared the quote with the student, and it helped to change the student’s perspective.
One day while I was vacationing in Florida with a friend of mine, we were walking to a restaurant. There was a lady sitting alone in a booth. My friend smiled and waved at her through the restaurant window. She turned around to see if he was waving to someone else, and then smiled and waved back when she realized that she was the target of his kind gestures. I asked him why he waved at her. He said because she’s alone and now I probably made her day. He made a difference – and so do you.
There are many ways in our lives that we make a difference, whether it’s through the work we do or the love we give to our family, friends, or a stranger in need of a smile. I encourage you to think about the difference you make. Think about the older person you’ve held the door open for or the person you smiled at who was dining alone or the encouraging words you spoke to a child, parent or co-worker. Think about the chain reaction that carries on for generations when you offer a word of encouragement to a young child or a person who feels like a failure.
Realize that you make a difference, and let it fuel you to keep reaching for your dreams and soaring to new heights in your life!