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Your Corner of the World

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When I was a teenager, I thought (as most teenagers do) that the world existed mainly for my enjoyment and pleasure. Being a teenager in the 80’s only fostered that ego-centric attitude. Fortunately for me and those who must live with me, I’ve discovered that doing my part to make this world we live in a better place is much more gratifying than demanding that the world make me happy. Sadly, I know lots of grown-ups who have yet to make this discovery.

The lesson I would like to share with you is that taking this particular personal responsibility can be far more gratifying than anything you could demand of the world. One of my clients thinks this idea has the potential to induce guilt. Please know that that is not my point at all. It’s not about feeling obligated – it’s about feeling joyful. I’d like to illustrate this lesson with a true story that happened to a dear friend of mine.

She was at the checkout counter of a large grocery store. Her purchases exceeded her cash by about $1.75. She had no checkbook and no credit card. And she was in a hurry. As she began to verbally panic about which item to leave behind, a voice behind her said. “How much do you need?” She turned to face a woman whom she swears looked just like a bag lady.

“$1.75,” my friend replied.

“Here,” and the bag lady handed the clerk $1.75.

Now my friend really began to panic. “How can I find you to pay you back?” “Where do you live?” “What is your address – I’ll mail it to you.”

The bag lady surveyed my friend with something akin to pity. “Don’t you know nothin’, lady?” she said. “Just do it for somebody else.” onenicething

Well, aside from stopping my friend dead in her tracks, these words put her on a mission for a year and a half. Every single time she was in a checkout line, she got all excited hoping that someone ahead of her would come up short and she could repay her debt.

Finally, her opportunity came and she excitedly and joyfully stepped up to the cashier to pay the way of a complete (and rather confused) stranger. As my friend said to me “It wasn’t the money I was paying back – it was the life lesson I was given that I was so grateful for – just do something nice for someone else.”

Accepting that challenge and that responsibility will give you, as it gave my friend, the daily joy of anticipation. What can I do today? What small effort can I make that will make someone else’s day?

As is true with all parts of Escaping Mediocrity, this lesson is paradoxical. Though you are the one giving, you will be the one who receives so much more. Don’t believe me? Try these exercises over the next week:

1.Think of five small things you can do for someone else. You don’t have to do them – just think of them.

2.Spend one whole day looking for an opportunity to be helpful to someone else.

3.Look around your community. Is there something you think “someone should do something about”? Could you do it?

BONUS POINTS: Do something nice for someone but don’t let them find out you did it or do something really nice and just don’t tell anybody. If you are discovered, it doesn’t count.

Oh and if you think this lesson doesn’t apply to your business, think again. 🙂

Can’t wait to hear about your adventures with this!

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