Recently I was flying to an engagement, and the in-flight magazine had a story about a staffer with a certain airline who had gone above and beyond what was expected for a passenger who had been stranded. When others in the organization heard about his good deeds, notes and letters poured in saying his kindness was legendary, and everyone knew his name and seemed to know of some display of kindness that he had shown to others at some time. At the end of the story, the staffer mentioned that the response from his fellow employees meant the world to him, because, unbeknownst to them, he was personally going through a tough time.
The story struck me, in part, because I am a believer in the idea that goodwill garners goodwill, and you never know when your kind deed or word or action will have an impact that will be felt and appreciated for years to come.
Interesting to think about the idea that goodwill garners goodwill, because I am not so sure many people buy in to the idea anymore that giving to others (whether it be time, talent or trust) will garner a great return on the investment some day and in some way. Somehow we seem to have lost the hopefulness that used to come with goodwill, good deeds and kindness.
I know it’s hard to get ahead in the rough and tumble world, and it is interesting to see that for all the striving to climb the ladder, there are some people who will purposefully burn the ladder down so others will not climb up after them, leaving them alone at the top to survey their tiny kingdom of wishful thinking power. I wonder if, in the long view of life to combat that type of selfish and destructive behavior, the rest of us–people of goodwill–would help as many good people find their path along the way so we can garner goodwill and make a positive lifetime impact by our actions?
Like many of you, I can think of a lot of times in my life when my simple actions of treating others the way I wanted to be treated paid me back ten-fold. I wasn’t looking for a payout but it came back to me nonetheless. Why? Because goodwill garners goodwill is just how the world works.
No doubt you’ve seen some horrible actions of some really ridiculous people online or on TV or at your local coffee shop, and I know that our insatiable appetite for the ridiculous keeps us watching the train wreck as it unfolds, but, friends, don’t be those people. Hold yourself to a higher standard, in fact, be the one who sets the standard for others to live up to and follow, because goodwill is hard to find nowadays and so appreciated when stumbled upon.
I firmly believe for you to garner goodwill others need to see it in your life, in your actions towards others and in your interactions with your work, your community and your surroundings. Remember, you mirror what you admire and everyone sees that.
When I think of mirroring goodwill, I always start with one’s personal space and surroundings. I have always believed that the way you care for your pets, your home and your “stuff” says a lot about the person you are. You know it’s true. It is amazing how much your “stuff” reflects your personhood. And when I see an unusually large number of broken items in a home, garage or office, I have a sinking suspicion that you’ve grown comfortable living with broken areas in your life. And things that are broken don’t usually garner goodwill when you really think about it; they are usually considered a nuisance because they don’t work and have little to no value, so I have to ask, why are you hanging on?
Call me crazy, but healthy people either get things fixed or toss out what doesn’t work anymore–in their home, in their lives or with their loser friends. (Yes, I am ripping on your loser friends because you become like those you hang with over time. It is what it is.)
A person of goodwill does not fill their life with things that are broken and don’t work or, due to their broken state, have little to no value. No one has time to sort through the broken pieces when we have a full life to live.
And if you’re the one hanging on to broken pieces, really think about what it is you’re trying to fix in your life. For most of us there isn’t enough glue in the world to put back together again that which was broken. Yes, you can hang on to the pieces, but it will never be the same. And with the brokenness you can be pretty sure that it will never–or rarely–garner the goodwill that it was once associated with. All it will do now is remind you of a broken piece of your life that has either not healed or has left a scar, and, friend, that will continue to hurt you mind, body, soul and spirit because very little good comes from your pain.
Let me get back to my overall theme, and let’s think about why you haven’t done the simple work of fixing or tossing the broken items in your life so you have some space of goodwill. I have to ask, what are you hanging on for?
And please stop kidding yourself that you are going to get it fixed one day. What day do you have in mind?
That idea reminds me of all the back roads I love to drive to see the old cars, old tractors, old falling down sheds. I am sure someone said, “…one day…I’ll get around to fixing that,” and yet, decades later, it sits rusted, broken down and not worth the effort or time to fix or restore. All it is good for is the scrap yard or the fireplace. That is what happens when “one day” never comes.
It may seem like a stretch, but hear me out. Time is a precious resource, and you and I have a limited number of days. So, while we are able, we should use our time wisely. And that is why I am not so sure that you’ll have the time to go back and fix all that is broken. Sometimes, to garner happiness in your life, you need to sweep the broken pieces into a pile, shed a tear for the loss and memory, then toss it all away to make space for all the goodwill in your life.
If my theme today is true, and I believe that it is, then consider figuring out what goodwill you have in your life that you are blessed to have and what goodwill you can give away to those who are less fortunate or who do not have a positive voice encouraging them to be their best.
Sometimes I find that it is in the little things we do well that will open doors to wider spaces that will allow the light to shine onto our good deeds and allow others to find their path in the darkness. So, today, if you have the chance to do something simple or something extraordinary, go ahead and do it. Let it be said that you were the reason others climbed the ladder of success and reached their dreams…because you never know when goodwill garners goodwill for yourself or for others.
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