Life is so spectacular.
Before I share about my guest this week I want to quote something from this week’s episode of “This Is Us”, in relation to his post.
“My story is unique and I feel like it’s like that for everyone. Strangers can be your most impactful people. Acquaintances can be your most impactful people. Family can be your most impactful people. And that’s why I can’t pick the person who has had the greatest impact on my life and why I think your question is flawed.”
A main character is asked to name the person who had the most impact on his life for his college admissions essay. That quote above was part of his answer, and I couldn’t agree more. I actually immediately thought of Stephen, and what he wrote for Positive Aggressive.
Stephen started out as a stranger, via email. Our jobs brought us together. Somewhere along the lines we started sharing things with each other. Pieces of our lives. It started with coffee and restaurant recommendations (I’m newish to the area) and it grew from there. I learned that Steve has an amazing family, that he and his wife are really special people, with special children. That he is an actor, a powerlifter, and animal lover. I shared the news of my department being dissolved next year and he shared a story with me about a similar situation along with some sound advice.
I asked Steve to write something for my blog a few weeks ago, because he has impacted my life. When you read his experience tonight you’ll see that another stranger impacted his life, and how that man impacted someone else’s life. I opened this piece with “Life is so spectacular”, this is the reason why. We all start out as strangers at some point, but then we grow and learn together and impact each other in so many ways. That is the beauty of life.
I planned on posting this tonight, and I watched that episode of This Is Us earlier today. In my eyes, there are no coincidences.
I won’t take up anymore time, please see Stephen’s contribution below, I promise it does not disappoint.
“Hello everyone, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Stephen and I am a friend of Sarah’s. Sarah and I correspond throughout the week for work related purposes but have also engaged in a friendly exchange of ideas, career goals, and of course good places to eat and drink coffee. She asked me to write for her blog and I was somewhat embarrassed and honored; so here goes. I hope not to disappoint.
I have to be honest, I have many ideas that I hope are worth the time for you to read, but I am not sure if they really are; in all honesty you will have to judge for yourself. The process of choosing what to write about was time consuming; that is until I heard a story from a friend at the gym.
I’ve known “Barry” for a while now, a little over a year. I saw him train at the gym and he always trains hard, but seems to be a bit of a newbie and in need of some advice. It has been my belief to offer help whenever I can; but I am also mindful that not everyone might need or want my help. Barry was always receptive and grateful. On this evening we were chatting about coffee (if I am asked to write more blogs you will notice that coffee is a theme) and the subject changed to what his profession is. Barry owns his own company. As we were chatting he informed me of some things his company does, like hiring veterans and working on getting veterans service animals; and how this endeavor might spin off into a non-profit or at least support a similar one. I was impressed.
I have done and continue to do works of service in my spare time. I do so because I feel I have been blessed and want to give back to those in need. I have done service work for homeless vets, for the food bank, and homeless children. Currently my wife and I support a dog rescue group by transporting rescues, and fostering them as needed. My wife also supports a group that helps mentally challenged clients. So hearing how Barry was helping made me happy.
We continued our talk and this is where it really got deep. Barry told me about his former housekeeper. She had been down on her luck when he first met her, and he gave her the job of cleaning his house. This just happened to be a skill she had and she was very good at it.
One unfortunate day she came to Barry and told him that she could no longer clean his house. Her car had died and she no longer had reliable transportation. Barry, wanting to do something nice for her, decided to buy her a new car. One that was economic but had room to carry supplies for cleaning, since this was clearly something she was both good at and enjoyed. He spoke to her about this and told her there was no need to pay him back, and that this was a gift. But it had one condition. She would have to go out and get more clients. She was gracious about the gift and took the challenge to heart.
Currently she has thirty homes she cleans and her business has grown so much and so fast that she had to hire a small staff and recently formed an LLC. To think this all started with a friendly gesture for offering work, and an additional gesture resulting in helping her to grow her own business.
I was so inspired by this story. Barry is a special person who had an immediate impact not just on one person but several. Think of the trickledown effect of his simple gesture. The housekeeper became a business owner, she employed some additional people, and she had to buy supplies, and so on.
I want you to think of how small gestures can have an impact on people you meet or interact with on a day to day basis. Be it a simple smile or a hello or a friendly gesture, these can radically change someone’s day. Sure it has the immediate impact of allowing ourselves to feel good, but we may never know the short or long term impact we have on others. Barry’s example is a bit extreme; or is it?
Have you ever thought of helping someone past their most immediate need? Think of things such as “Meals on Wheels” often it is more than just delivering food to someone who cannot go out themselves. More often than not, it’s the personal connection you make with client; what that interaction means and the friendly conversation is worth more than the food you delivered. How about donating a bit of money to a micro lender? I have some money I have lent/donated to Kiva.org. A micro lender that specializes in loans to poor entrepreneurs. The best part is you choose who to loan a small amount of money by reading their backstory and what they plan to do with the loan. How about “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” or the “Boys and Girls club?” Most non-profits only ask for a small amount of time and any and all skills you may bring are greatly appreciated. You could do something small like put up a donation box at work for the local food bank or pantry and donate food once a month.
I promise you a small gesture to help someone, be it formally like a work of service, or informally like smiling or offering a hand in a time of need, will not only change someone’s life but also yours as well.
We have the power to change the world, one small step at a time. Think about it.”