Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy Traveling

     How often do people complain about traveling, especially about the airlines?  Well I've been traveling almost every week for the past year, and I have to say that most of the airline personnel I've seen are actually pretty good.  Of course, like any job, there are some bad ones who seem sullen or bored, as if they just don't care.  But I've encountered even more who really seem to want to do a great job.
     Yesterday, I got home from a trip to North and South Carolina.  My US Airways flight from Spartanburg boarded on time and without issue.  We took off slightly early and landed in Philly about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  We didn't have to wait for a gate or any gate personnel to show up and we deplaned quickly.  As I walked through the terminal on my way to baggage claim, I made a 10 minute stop at the US Airways Club and had a snack and a soft drink.  By the time I got to baggage claim, my bag was already sitting on the belt waiting for me.  As is often my custom, I went over to the baggage claim office and reported that I had no issues at all and thanked the agent for seeing that my bags came quickly and easily.  The agent seemed quite surprised to have someone stop in just to report good news, but after she got over the shock she broke into a big smile and thanked me for letting her know.
     I continue to be reminded on a daily basis that I'll see in the world pretty much what I'm looking for.  If I look for examples of dishonesty, poor attitudes, lousy service, pain, and misery, I'll surely see them all around me.  But if I look for examples of decency, goodwill, kindness, good service, and helpfulness, I see them everywhere I look.  Given a choice (and we all have a choice), I'd rather look for the latter.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Donating Time and Expertise

     Yesterday I spent the morning conducting a 3-hour workshop for more than 30 local non-profit organizations, as part of a regional HR association event.  This was one of those requests that always seems less disruptive many months before the event.  In fact, I had agreed to do it more than 6 months ago, when nothing that far into the future could possibly be that big of a deal.  However, in a week in which I traveled across the country and back, and in which I was juggling many other (paying) client commitments, it wasn't my top choice for how to spend my first day back home.
     Nevertheless, I made it a point to block out all distractions and to simply be present to doing my best job in the moment.  The audience deserved nothing less than that.  
     When I got home later in the day, I was reflecting on two thoughts.  The first was the importance of the "abundance mentality" I wrote about one time last year.  By that I mean thinking of the world as an abundant place and thinking of my capacity to serve and to give to others as plentiful, rather than limited.  When I think from a perspective of limits or scarcity, I tend to want to more carefully dole out kindness.  However, when I see kindness as something I don't have to conserve or limit, I'm able to give more freely.
     The second thing I was reflecting on was one of the "Fundamentals" I used to teach in my former company.  It was called, "Practice A+ness as a way of life."  This Fundamental is about having intense pride in the quality of what I do and making sure that my work reflects the highest standard of which I'm capable.  On days when I'm tired, or less motivated, it's my passion for A+ness that pushes me to still deliver a high quality talk or to provide my very best thinking to a leader that I'm coaching or to a company for which I'm consulting.  While the audience might not perceive it as less than my best, I would know.  And that's really what A+ness is about -- a deeply personal commitment to excellence, even if no one were to know but me.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Bruegger's Kindness Story

     I know it's been a few months since I last posted an update to this kindness blog.  For those wondering where I've been, the answer is:  pretty much everywhere!  Just in the past 3 months, I've done work in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Kansas City, Dallas, Akron, Buffalo, Omaha, Philadelphia, NY City, Seattle, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, Providence, Atlanta, and Phoenix, to name a few!  I've continued to practice acts of kindness, though haven't made it a priority to do so without missing a single day.  And obviously, I haven't written much.  However, something happened today that I thought was worth sharing, and hopefully it will get me writing again more frequently.
     I was in Phoenix for the past several days giving a couple of talks and visiting my sister and my parents.  Before leaving for home, I decided to get some of my favorite Bruegger's bagels to bring back to NJ. (We no longer have any Bruegger's anywhere near us and so I try to pick some up anytime I'm traveling to a city in which they still exist).  I called them this morning and ordered 2 dozen Honey Grain bagels to be picked up around 9:00, on my way to the airport.  
     Though I hadn't yet been to that particular shop, the directions were easy and the exit was literally right on my way.  Somehow though, I must have been daydreaming and completely missed the exit.  Before I knew it, I was arriving at the car rental return for the airport, and I didn't have time to go back and find the Bruegger's and still make my flight.  While disappointed about the bagels, my bigger quandary was feeling bad about having placed an order and then "stiffing" the store.  After a few minutes of thought, I decided that I should call the store and give them my credit card and tell them to charge me for the bagels anyway.  But the story doesn't end there.
     When I called, they put me through to the catering manager, a woman named Felicia.  Upon hearing the situation, Felicia asked me what time my flight was.  Then she suggested that she could drive the bagels to the airport and meet me in front of the terminal from which I was departing!  Sure enough, that's what she did.  I'm actually writing this post on the flight, and looking forward to having plenty of great bagels to enjoy over the coming weeks!
     As I reflect on what took place, I have a few observations.  First, I was thinking about integrity.  I sometimes think of integrity as doing the "right" thing, even when no one's looking.  No one (except for me) would have ever known if I never paid for the bagels I ordered.  They didn't even have my last name, and I could perhaps justify it by assuming that the bagels would eventually be sold throughout the day.  Still, it didn't feel right.  Integrity, I think, is most often a very personal thing.
     The other interesting observation was how my kindness (doing the right thing) was so readily reciprocated.  I certainly had no expectation at all that the bagels would be delivered to me at the airport.  In fact, it hadn't even occurred to me as an option.  But as I observed throughout the past year, kindness is contagious.  It's pretty cool to see.
     I'll try to be more regular in my writing in the coming months, despite my continued crazy travel schedule.