Have you had someone open a door for you lately? If so, you know the feeling that comes from a simple act of kindness. If they smile and say your name as they open that door, it can make your entire day. Why do we appreciate such a small deed so much?
When one person elevates another higher than themselves in a practical, tangible way, it is like a celebration. A cup of water, a smile, an open door; each act signals that you are important to someone else. You matter. Kindness, at some level, is applause.
We watch the Olympics and the Super Bowl to see each winner receive their medal or trophy. Celebration. The acceptance speech, an Oscar, the inauguration – it is big people winning big things being celebrated.
A few days ago, I attended our Celebrate Service awards event. Hundreds of passionate Benefitfocus associates gathered to cheer each other on for their service to our clients and each other. My seat was near the front of the packed room. It gave me a vantage point to see people run up to the stage when their name was called. They swooshed by my arm, excited, shaking, even tearing up. Their name was called out loud in front of their peers, announcing they won an award. It was an evening dedicated to acknowledging wonderful individuals.
Celebrating the human spirit happens on big stages at planned events, and it is wonderful. I cherish those times. Yet tomorrow morning at the coffee shop on the way to the office, you will have several opportunities to esteem someone higher than yourself. You can smile, you can open the door, you can lift them up and let them know you are glad they are who they are.
It may be a stretch to believe that everyone will put their mobile phone down long enough to catch eye contact with those around them. Regardless of what the masses do with their day tomorrow, you and I can do something simple. You and I can shout a friend’s name and tell them you think they are awesome. It just may be that a steady dose of small applause is even more powerful than a gold metal itself.
We can contribute simple acts of kindness, which are wonderful mini-celebrations, and in turn be a part of a larger culture promoting the good things about the people around us. It sounds a bit idealistic I suppose. When challenged by others for being too optimistic or idealistic I always wonder if not me, then who? If you are not a bit lofty with your hopes and ideals for your team, then who will be? If you do not smile and open that door for someone else, then who will? All great things start as small seeds. Pack as much into that seed as you want it to produce in years to come. Before you know it, you will be part of a powerful movement that many will be drawn to. It starts with you.