“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
I remembering reading or hearing a story once that went a little something like this:
A woman was sitting on a bench at a bus station when a father came walking up with his two young children. The man sat on the same bench at the opposite end from where the woman was sitting and waiting on her bus to arrive. The children, too young to know the difference between right and wrong, were running around making noises and being pretty disruptive, especially to the woman who was trying to read a book as she waited. The woman became aggitated as the children continued to disrupt, especially with the father who did nothing and was seemingly oblivious to the fact that his children were being so loud. After a while and the father still having said or done nothing, the woman could no longer take it. She walked over to the man and said to him, “Excuse me, sir! I’m not sure how you haven’t noticed, but your kids are being quite loud and disruptive. Would you please do something so we can all wait for the bus in peace?” The father snapped out of his transe and replied to the woman, “Oh I am so sorry. You will have to forgive me. We just came from the funeral where we buried their mother. They love buses and I thought that bringing them here to watch them might be fun for them. I guess I zoned out and didn’t pay attention to how they were acting. Please accept my apologies.” The woman stood there speechless and humiliated as the father walked over to gather up his children.
Perspective is a concept we often learn the hard way. We learn it when we see a tragic event occur on the national news. We learn it when we hear about bad news happening to someone we know. And unfortunately, we learn it when something happens to us. But, what about the rest of the time?
Society today lends itself toward selfishness. People are too busy with their climb to the top of whatever ladder they have latched onto that they will step over, knock down, or kick people to the bottom without even as much as batting an eye at the troubles those people may be going through. We have become a society that thrives on its “win at all costs” mentality in a “me-driven” world.
Certainly, I find myself in those moments of doing things and acting in ways that only benefit me. When I catch myself thinking that way, I do my best to remember an idea I heard at a Transformational Leadership training I attended in September 2012. There is always at least one more thing about a person that we do not know.
We don’t know the daily struggles of other people. We don’t know how their day has been. We have no control over how they will treat us. But, we do know that we can offer a smile. We do know that we can offer them the benefit of the doubt. We do know that we have control over how we treat them.
Perhaps, we should show a little more gratitude, a little more compassion, and a little more understanding toward other people. Afterall, wouldn’t we want the same to be extended to us when we’ve had a bad day, make a mistake, or are in the midst of a bad set of circumstances? That might be all it takes to change someone’s day or life for the better.
Bring your best today!