One Person Can Make A Difference
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~Mother Theresa
Rain, intense torrential rain.
I was in Halifax, sitting in wall to wall traffic, my car was being buffeted by high velocity winds and pelted by the steady pounding of the irrepressible rain. Never before have I seen such a downpour falling from the skies.
I had just come from a meeting with a client, and I was replaying the whole scenario in my head as I was swept along by the surge of both traffic and nature. Not really focusing on where I was going, I allowed myself to take an innocent right turn onto one of the busiest intersections in Halifax in five o'clock traffic.
So I just sat there waiting to make my break into traffic. I knew I'd either get a break, or I would have to make one myself, so I just sat there behind a small gold coloured car with a left turn indicator light flashing, and waited for my chance. To make matters worse, there was no flashing light to allow us left turners to go, so we had to take our chances with the oncoming traffic. So, I sat there and waited... one cycle of traffic lights and the car in front didn't even move an inch... a second cycle of lights and still no movement... a third long cycle of green, amber and red lights and the car in front still sat there. Feeling a little frustrated, I gave a double toot on my car horn and waited for the next cycle, which came and went and still no movement. Now, my impatience was starting to get the better of me and I was looking for a way around the car so that I could get to my next appointment.
I saw the shadow advancing in my side-view mirror before I realized what was going on. A young man in a business suit, wearing a Tilley hat, had exited his car which was behind me was braving the storm and advancing towards the car in front of me. "This should be interesting", I thought, "I wonder what he's going to say to her". I lowered my window just low enough to hear the conversation, but not low enough to be drowned by the rain. Expecting to hear a 5 O'clock road rage tongue lashing from this guy, I was shocked and incredibly impressed by what he actually did say.
"Excuse me Ma'am, are you having car troubles?" he calmly asked her, as he gripped his hat and hunched against the rain.
"No, I'm afraid to go out into that line of traffic." I heard the driver say.
"Yes, it is tricky to do, have you ever done this before?" he asked.
"Yes, just a little, but it scares me."
"I'm sorry. This traffic IS scary, when no one will give you a break. You're going to have to try it though, because there is a long line of people waiting behind you who are really getting impatient, and I'm afraid one of them will do something stupid". He said.
"Yes, I can hear them blowing their horns, but I just can't jump out in this traffic." She replied.
"May I offer a suggestion?" he asked
"Yes please" I heard her say.
"As soon as the light goes green, just advance your car into the intersection, don't try to turn, just sit there and wait and then someone is guaranteed to give you a break. It will work, I've done it a thousand times and you can too. Will you try it?" He gently coaxed.
"OK, I'll try it" She said.
"Great, if you need help, let me know, I'm only a couple of cars behind you" he said and turned back towards his car.
I looked at his face as he walked by, leaning into the wind and the rain as he returned to his car: There was no malice, no rage, no sign of frustration, just a very peaceful and confident look. He knew that the woman in the car would be OK and his confidence in her gave the rest of us who were comfortable and dry in our cars assurance that we would soon be on our way.
The light turned green, the car edged out into the intersection, and the first oncoming car stopped and gave her a break, and off she went. I, on the other hand, just sat there, embarrassed by my actions, or lack of them, and in awe of the unknown man, and awaited my own opportunity to break out into traffic, not in as much of a hurry as I was a few short minutes ago.
Many of us have gone through "storms" in our lives where we were uncertain about our actions and many of us would have loved to have had someone tell us that we were going to be ok.
What have you done this week to help someone who was afraid, or confused or who just needed a kind word?
Did you do what I did and complained and whined that you were being inconvenienced, or did you offer to help?
You or I may never have the opportunity to meet this man, and actually, we don't really need to, we just need to follow his example. He wanted nothing in return, he just saw someone who needed some kindness and support in a storm and he had the confidence step out in the storm to offer it without worrying about what other people thought. It wasn't about him; it was about helping someone who was afraid.
We have these kind of opportunities each and every day and we seem to gloss over them, focusing, instead, on our own interests and needs. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that life is not about you. It's about the impact you leave with people who owe you nothing. Dale Carnegie said "You can make more friends in 5 minutes by being interested in others than you can in five years by trying to get them interested in you."
Won't you take a few minutes a day to help someone in need? It will radically change your attitude and will build confidence that you've never dreamed possible before.
Make this your best week ever!
A Bit about me...
My vision is quite simple: to make an impact on the lives of the people who have been entrusted to me: You (for reading this article), my family and my clients.
I coach people. Direct, practical, innovative, meaningful.
I coach for excellence.
I love what I do... and so do my clients.
Over the years I've noticed that business coaching that was supposed to make us stronger actually took away our confidence and made us doubt ourselves. Confidence and people skills aren't developed just by measuring and planning everything, they grow through doing and learning from experience and by taking risks. People want to make a difference. Build teams. Be better understood. Live more confidently.
I founded IBC Impact Business Communication Inc. to create a world where business people communicate and act with confidence to create better worlds for themselves. Worlds where they feel powerful and free to express themselves. Worlds where something as simple as conversation creates energy, understanding and impact. Worlds so exquisite, I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
If you found this article helpful, insightful or moving, please let me know, if you think it can help others, please share it with them.