The other day at lunch my friend Diane was excited to announce, “Ooh Linda, I have to tell you a story. You inspired me!” Of course I was going to be happy to hear whatever she had to say, but sometimes that sentence is met with equal parts trepidation and hopeful curiosity on my part. What if her inspiration underscores aspects of my character that reflect my downsides instead of my upsides? Linda – you inspired me – I went for a bike ride instead of cleaning the garage! Or Linda – you inspired me – I let my kids eat pie for breakfast! Or Linda – you inspired me – I let my daughter play leap frog over some fire hydrants and then she fell and broke her arm (true story).
Happily this story was more in line with the parts of myself I happen to favor. Diane has recently returned to work and all that entails: the commute by train, the hustle bustle, and the group march into her building as she goes to make her mark (which I know she will because she is spectacular at all she does – Go, Diane, Go!).
As this is Diane’s second go around on the career path, her perspective is unique. She has taken the time to step back and consider the experience of the mass arrival to the office. She quietly watched as each and every person marched towards the building stoic, intense, focused, and decidedly inward with their energy. This includes the building security guard who by the very act of standing at the building entrance – doing his job – became a consistent feature of her arrival.
Mildly inspired by yours truly, Diane decided to make it her mission to crack the code on this serious and stern security guard. (I love this mission, yay Diane!) Each and every day, for days and days and days, she smiled brightly and said a chipper “Good Morning!” on her way through the lobby. And each and every day, for days and days, she got nothing back, not even a head nod! Finding herself a bit frustrated she thought to herself “What would Linda do? (Or “WWLD?)” Her words, said to herself, in her brain. “She would persist!!! She would try harder!!!” So Diane did both.
I love the image of Diane’s hopeful smiling face trained on the stony faced security guard – hers alone standing out among a whole morass of non-smiling faces. After months and months of smiling away he must have realized she was not in fact crazy, but sincerely happy to see him. Finally, he cracked! He first rewarded her with a nod, then a smile and culminated with some sort of high five/break dance move. As far as I can tell they practically hug every morning now. His name is Doran. Diane and Doran are now friends.
This moment is now a shared morning ritual for them both. I am guessing (and hopeful) that their affable smiles do not go un-noticed by the masses filing past them and their happy moment. Could Diane and the security guard possibly inspire others to emote positive energy towards their fellow human beings? I hope the answer is yes – ad infinitum. And, if so, this means Diane each day manifests a kindness reverberation. Have you considered the composure of your face as you go about your day? Can you re-arrange your face, your gestures, your kind words to make another person’s day? Can you affect your own kindness reverberation? So simple really, but infinitely powerful too.
Now that I think about it I must have inspired my son just a bit too. Miracle of miracles – he can hear me through his headphones! He wrote his 7th Grade Chapel Talk that he delivered to the 5th Grade class on the topic of Choosing Kindness. As part of the assignment the student has to circle the talk back to a meaningful passage in the bible. My son closed his talk with these words. I will close my post with the same…
“In the Holy Bible Hebrews 13:2 the passage says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” To me the passage is about acting kindly toward new people, so you will make the person feel more welcomed. It says that you should be kind regardless of whether you see anything in it for you. The result could be surprising just like meeting an angel. Don’t forget to be kind to people you already know because that will strengthen your community. And so I put forward a challenge to you: for the rest of the day be as kind to people you encounter as you can. Say hello. Smile. Go ahead and make a person’s day.”
Say hello. Smile. Go ahead and make a person’s day! #kindnessreverberation