This week, I was fortunate to have dinner with my son and a dear friend of ours. This young man– who today, is a successful father, employee, husband, and friend– has overcome incredible hurdles in order to get to where he is today. I had the privilege of meeting him when he was down and out; I say the privilege because I got to witness the shift, the growth, and all of the hard work that he did. He turned to my son and said, “You know your dad saved my life”. I told him, “You saved your own life, and I was there to encourage you and walk along with you”. Before I said this, I said “Thank you, I am humbled that you think that, and most importantly– your effort made any lifting I did worth it”. In this case, I said ‘thank you’, so as to not steal the opportunity for someone to show and express gratitude. We so often tell others that we did nothing, as we are afraid to receive appreciation– at least, I am– yet when we do this, we rob people of the opportunity to show their appreciation– for them to give back to us.
I am reminded of a story of a teacher and how his words changed the trajectory of his student’s life with seven simple words. One of his students stole from another student and was caught; usually a teacher would say, “You are a thief”, and punish the child, yet this teacher said to his student, “You are not a thief– you stole; use this experience as a lesson to create a better life”. Thirty years later, when this gentleman had become successful, he said that it was the words of his teacher that changed him, and redirected him toward a better life.
This story truly speaks to the power of simple words, and choosing our words carefully, as well as the power of believing in someone when they do not believe in themselves. If you asked me what I did for this friend of mine, it was not rocket science, and it was not something that only I could do– anyone could have done it. I was there to be patient, and to encourage him, and to lift him up when he was down; I gave him my time, and my heart.
We so often in life say that if only I had ‘this’, I could do “X”– not true! You have the tools right now to be a helping hand, and to lend a listening heart, which in turn means that you have the ability to be there for others, and to save lives. Think of that!
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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