08 Oct Small Ways To Make A Big Difference

I received an unexpected gift this afternoon in the train station of the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield.

When checking the validity of a ticket to return the next day the member of staff offered, there and then, to solve my problem and issue a new ticket to save me paying out a lot more the next day. No big deal, you might think, but he did it in a very understated and respectful way. I felt that I was, in that moment, truly the focus of his attention. I had an almost visceral sense of joy. Not only had I had saved myself some money, but I knew my journey tomorrow would be hassle-free and I had been treated well.

This young man didn’t know that I’d had a difficult morning meeting with my son and university staff to work out how to help him get back on track after a traumatic experience. He couldn’t have been aware of the emotional heartache that I’ve endured failing to protect a loved one. But his way of ‘being’, going out of his way to, if you like, add more in value than he took in payment, certainly made a big difference to me.

And although I’m unlikely to be making much use of the Transpennine Express train because I live elsewhere, I am, on the basis of this experience, very likely to be saying positive things about it.

Feeling in such good spirits I then reflected on other small blessings of the day. The cup of coffee brought to me by my husband, the online meeting with my colleagues Anja Serfontein and Francine Brooks in which we, as always and irrespective of any pressing business issues ‘checked-in’ on a personal level, and the smile from the flight attendant. Feeling gratitude is such a tonic and, for me anyway, opens up all sorts of creativity.

The thing is, none of us knows what’s going on for other people deep down. We often don’t know whether or not they are suffering hidden disabilities, what has happened to them in the past to shape their view of the world, what burdens they are carrying or what’s going on at home. Similarly, we as leaders may be completely unaware of what gifts they are hiding from us, what they are achieving outside of work and what their dreams are. How much richer would our interaction at work be if we did?

Often we are so busy rushing through the day that we fail to notice, or to make the time to find out, what could make a difference to those we are leading or hoping to influence. And sometimes you only need to notice a very small thing get a completely different picture. The kaleidoscope effect.

As Sister Helen Prejean, a leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and inspiration for the film ‘Dead Man Walking’ has said, sometimes we can transform the world just through small acts of great love.

  • What are you not noticing?
  • What small thing can you do right now to make a difference to a member of your team, your boss or a loved one?
  • How might that in some way extend your influence?

 

Click here to find out more about Clare’s work with leaders and their teams.

 

© Move Ahead Global 2015

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