I often make seemingly irrational decisions on very minor things just because it will improve my day. For example, There are two streets that lead to my house; one is the street I live on and the other is a side street that may actually be a longer route depending on the direction I’m coming from at the time. I almost always take the other street because it is lined with trees that change colors with the seasons and for those brief minutes, I get to enjoy something really beautiful. Whether they are blooming with colorful spring flowers or turning a deep purple with the autumn chill, I feel a part of something greater than whatever to-dos I have on my list and all the frustration of dealing with traffic or chaotic drivers just melts away. It’s a simple thing to take a different street, but the profound affect that it has on my day is not trivial.
This may not be the best example of simple things making a difference since the tree lined street doesn’t have to give anything to me or make any effort, so I’d like to share another story. One day I was picking up lunch at our local Jack in the Box. Through the drive-thru window I could see that the boy had grabbed a towel to wipe down my drink cups. It’s a simple gesture that saves me from a sticky mess in my car. When he opened the window to hand over my drinks he asked how I was doing. “I’m fabulous, thank you so much” I said with a huge smile, then asked him about his day. I was so cheerful in fact that he asked me why I was so happy and I let him know that it was only because he wiped down my drinks. I thanked him again and let him know that though it was so simple, I appreciated his thoughtfulness. He answered “I do what I can,” and there it was, the mantra of good service. Not “I do what I please” or “I do what I’m told” as is so often the stigma of younger generations, but “I do what I can.” Sure, he’s just a drive-thru clerk now, but with this thinking, this young boy can be something great one day. He doesn’t see it yet, but I see the potential. He smiled as I started to drive away, and maybe I made his day or maybe not, but he certainly made mine.
Greatness doesn’t come from wanting to be great or following a list of instructions.
What I’m trying to say is that greatness doesn’t come from wanting to be great or following a list of instructions. It comes from doing what we can, doing it the best we can, and thinking about others first. Wanting to serve and wanting to do the right thing will make a difference. Today, it may be a very small difference, but things add up, multiply, and you are a better person for each kind act. In the end, depending on the service you put your life towards, who knows how many people you’ll impact, how many days you’ll make brighter, or how many lives you’ll save. It takes practice to lead a life of service. It’s a virtue that is instilled over time and affects all aspects of your life. Take the time to notice and also to do the simple things because they do make a difference and eventually, you may have the opportunity to make a big difference.