Deb Sofield

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If the whole world was blind

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If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?

I travel a lot and I like to people-watch. I have this little ritual–as I walk through airports, I look at everyone running this way and that and at those sitting to make a flight or who are eating in the food court, and I think to myself that everyone in there has a mother. They may not have had a father (past the point of conception), but they all have or have had a mother. Then I usually think, my goodness, wouldn’t their mother be disappointed in how mean and snarky they are to the service personnel; or how loud and obnoxious they are to the gate agent or how surprisingly they dressed to travel, like wearing pajamas on a plane; or I observe how polite, nice and kind they were to everyone they met. Sadly, I don’t usually see or hear that last one very often, in fact, I rarely hear nice comments at the airport for some reason.

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you know that I am a work in progress when it comes to being kind, and that’s important, because the truth is that kindness is fundamental to me. Years ago, I took to heart the quote from Mark Twain, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” And I actually think about those words when I want to yell at someone for driving like a maniac down the road, or those who throw trash and cigarettes butts out their car window, or who take an extra long time in the drive-through line acting like they have never seen the coffee options board before. Yes, I can be a pistol if I let myself or my mouth get ahead of my heart and mind, I’m embarrassed to admit.

When I saw this quote, 

If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress? –Boonaa Mohammed

I was struck by the thought of how my actions reflect me–the true me–heart and soul, mind and body, even if no one is actually watching me. And if the whole world were blind, I wonder, not only how many people would I impress, but also how many people would be disappointed in me as well.

I don’t think I’ve ever been overly consumed with impressing people with my wit and wisdom. I’m just happy to talk to a good friend and replay the stories of my day and adventures of the week, but my friends can see me (visually) and they can put my words and actions to the test to check my authenticity. What would I do with someone who could not see me and just had to rely on or trust me on my everyday actions? Would I make the cut of living my life in such a way that was impressive? Or would I be one of those who say one thing and do another or, worse yet, do nothing at all?

Today, as I reflect on my words and actions, I implore you to stop and think about how your actions affect others and if your actions are aligned with your words.

Maybe you have created a difference between what you say and what you do? Because, if you have, then you have a dichotomy of actions and words no one will be impressed with, no matter how good you look or how hard you try until you bring your words and actions into alignment. Be mindful that not only will no one listen to your message, but also, I suspect, no one will follow you, and after all you’ve done to climb the ladder of success that would be a disappointing and hard fall.

More so lately, as I have looked around and watched our current crop of leaders in business and politics, school or places of worship, I am not so sure we’re winning the battle of the mind by our actions. Why? Because actions do speak louder than words, and for many talking heads their words ring hollow.

We all lament the crisis of conscience these days in other people, but what about in ourselves?

In a sense we’re all blind, whether visually impaired or just willing to over look the actions of ourselves and our friends and family, so the question begs to be asked, “When will we take stock in who we are and how we are perceived by others?” I think it is important that we think about how we influence others with our words, our lives and our actions.

I used to assume that everyone knew the basics of social skills such as which fork to use at a dinner table, or not eating like a Viking and not being loud and obnoxious on your cell phone in public, but as I deal with people from all walks of life, I am not so sure anymore.

Another aspect to this thought, “If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?” that really bothers me, is that I am hearing and seeing the degradation of our society by the words we use and the actions we take towards ourselves and others, just like the chump who yells at the airline help desk clerk. I’m pretty sure your luggage is heading to Albuquerque instead of Albany, and I can pretty much guarantee that they were not impressed with your words or your actions towards them. Acting out doesn’t come close to being impressive to anyone, and everyone can see that.

When I mention that I see the degradation towards self, I am consciously aware when I see and hear people say about themselves, “I’m no good at (and you can fill in the blank),” what I hear and can almost see is a ragged red brick of self-doubt that, if it is not gently removed, will be used to slowly beat the self-esteem of the person down to dust if we let those words stand in their mind.

When I hear people talk to themselves that way, I want to shout out loud and say (a paraphrase of an old quote), You’re too strong to live life hurt, you’re too beautiful to let someone’s ugly ways make you insecure of yourself and you’re most likely allowing an opinion of someone who does not love you or really know you rule your life, so stop allowing hurt people to hurt you. Only you can shield their words and actions from darkening your vision.

For fun, when I Googled the line, how to impress people, I came up with 15,500,000 options. Some of the most often quoted skills were: be authentic, care about others, be honest, respect everyone, address people by their name, and say please and thank you. That’s a great basic list, and if the whole world were blind and you treated others the way you’d like to be treated, starting with the list and adding in your own rules, I’m pretty sure you would impress most everyone. But that is where we fall down. We have great lists and we claim to follow them, but in so many cases our actions speak louder than our words…and that hurts deeply.

I must admit I’m quite taken with this thought for the week,

If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?

I will dwell on this thought and see how I can make changes in my own life to follow this path. And I’ll ask that you consider thinking about the same quote this week, and if you are not able to come up with a very long list of how many people would be impressed by you, then you might want to rethink your actions so you can see the result of your life’s work in the lives of others, not just to impress them, but to impress upon them your authentic self–your caring, your honesty, your respect…and your kindness.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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