“Oh, when I was a kid… how magic it seemed!
Oh, please let me sleep, it’s Christmas time.”
– Eddie Vedder
This morning I took my two older children to school. I let one out, but placed my hand on the chest of the older one. “No, you stay here, son.” My daughter smiled as she walked away, knowing what was about to happen. We left and headed to the Blue Plate Café, a diner that my son had never visited before. What happened next was magic, but the prestige won’t happen for another 20 years. In a move that cost nearly $17, a moment was created that would cause my son to hold onto a memory that will remain with him forever. One day, he’ll look back and remember how special he felt on his 12th birthday… how he got singled out, how he’d visited a restaurant with his dad and sat on stools at the bar, how he mattered… He’ll remember going directly to Books-A-Million afterwards and reading books while all his other friends were sitting at desks in school. One day, when he’s in his 20’s or 30’s, he’ll find himself in a situation needing to know that he matters to someone. In that moment, he’ll remember his youth and he’ll remember how magical it was for him. *cue disappearing Keyser Söze limp*
In preparation for an upcoming series that I’m titling, “How Not to Be Lame”, understand that you don’t have to be a dad, you don’t have to have a husband or a girlfriend, you don’t have to have kids, or even close acquaintances to be able to perform simple acts that will ripple for decades! If we’re being honest, all of us cross paths regularly with people who don’t “matter” all that much to us. As cold as it looks written out, it’s the truth. Go to these people and do something extraordinary. Do something that will let them know that in that moment, they matter and that they’re doing absolutely nothing to warrant the attention. Buy lunch for that co-worker that has a hard time making friends because he’s unintentionally obnoxious… leave a thank you card or gift card with kind words for your bartender who’s got kids at home waiting for mommy or daddy to return… give things to people who have absolutely no way of paying you back – ESPECIALLY when you feel the need to hold tightly to everything you own. Some people are so threatened by you that they go out of their way to make your day worse. Without being patronizing, show them some genuine kindness. Who KNOWS the details of their backstory? In most cases, you’ll never be around for the payoff… but the magic… OH, the magic that will occur. You have the potential to create an anchor point in time… to create a moment that gives people the strength to take one. more. step.
Someone you know needs to feel connected today and it won’t cost you a penny. You have the opportunity to pull off something extraordinary… to keep the magic going, create something out of nothing, and become a positive influence in the lives of those that cross your path. The satisfaction is rarely immediate, but the return is incalculable.
TL;DR – Be intentional about making folks feel like they matter because the payoff is so much greater than the investment.