I ask myself this question from time to time when I’m trying to take stock of the day. It’s a welcome change from evaluating yourself based off other metrics – family situation, income, career, where you’re living, etc. And it’s much less selfish. A binary metric that is answered simply as a “yes” or “no.” Did I help improve or brighten someone else’s day?
Many well-respected and intelligent people have been quoted as saying something along the lines of: The quality of a person should be determined by their impact on others rather than what we often refer to as “success” in the form of status, income, or other metrics. Some of these individuals include The Fresh Prince (Will Smith), Maya Angelou, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Anne Frank, Warren Buffett, Abraham Lincoln…
How do you typically measure the quality of a day?
Well, maybe we should start with – do you ever sit back, reflect, and think about what happened today?
How did you do? Was it a good day? Or maybe it wasn’t… (if that’s the case, sorry for bringing up the question).
Maybe a good day means you survived the work day. Perhaps it is acquiring another client, making it to the gym, or adding some cash to the savings account. Oh, here’s another good one – you spent some time unplugged from technology with your kids. Just got out and enjoyed the outdoors. That sounds like a good day to me.
All of that sounds important and well worth your time, no doubt, but at the end of your days is that additional client or another survived work day going to add to your cumulative total of ‘good guy-ed-ness?’ Aside from spending quality time as a parent or as a reliable family member, are the other measured activities helping you to leave a lasting legacy or vital impact on the world? We’ve all heard that we can’t take the money with us when we go.
So, what is something tangible that we could do to make an impact, regardless of income or status level?
We could compliment a store clerk for putting the bread on top of the cans while bagging your groceries (I’ve definitely done this one before – to the tune of a few awkward looks and many, “Thanks! Not too many people say they appreciate that.”). They always smile.
A common one these days is paying it forward. An example would be this – you’re standing in the line at Starbucks (or insert local coffee shop here) and you hand the barista an extra $10 and say, “Let me pay for the lady behind me and whoever else this can help out behind her (hoping the Caramel Light Frappuccino with whipped cream is less than $10). No strings, just coffee.
How about holding the door for someone behind you or just calling your mom (tell me she wouldn’t appreciate that…)?
If we want to get a bit more aggressive we could volunteer at a charity or shelter, get involved with your church, give some of your time at a hospital, tutor someone, be a Big Brother or Sister, or help with a group like Habitat For Humanity.
Sure, one of these acts in isolation may not make a huge impact, but it’ll affect someone’s day. Even if only for a moment. You know what else? Add a few of these together and people may start to refer to you as a great person. More important than the views and opinions of others, you might start to see yourself in a better light…
What’s the point of this article?
I’m challenging each and every one of us to give it a shot for a week. Go for 7 days in a row where you take a moment each day to go out of your way to help someone else, at no cost to them and without the thought of retribution. Try something different each day. What could it hurt?
More importantly – what, or who, could it help?
During the week or after it’s done let us know how it felt, how you helped, and if this is something you’ll want to try more in the future. I’m hoping this will be a welcome change from the constant self-monitoring, from the budget watching or corporate ladder climbing that tends to dominate some of our days. Let’s go out of our way to compliment someone else or to offer a bright moment in what could be a cloudy day.
I’m already proud of us for the good vibes we’ll be sending out in the near future! Nice work team – let’s have a great week!
Thank you for being here!
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