I find it interesting when people are conflicted. A lifetime of conditioning and a seemingly-endless swim against a negative current sometimes leaves us jaded and oft times even cynical about the goings on in our lives.
I have a friend who was diagnosed with cancer last winter and has been going through a difficult time in 2014. When a mutual friend sent a group text a few weeks ago asking if anybody would like to get together on Saturday to clean up Billy’s leaves – I was quick to reply, “Absolutely!”
When I woke up this past Saturday morning, I had forgotten. It was a sunny and beautiful fall Saturday and I was having coffee with my wife when it struck me – and when it did, I really didn’t feel like going. But I put on my sweats, loaded rakes into my trunk, and went anyway.
I’m not much for manual labor (in fact, full disclosure, I don’t even do my own leaves), but I can honestly say that I’ve never had such a great time “working” in my life. It just felt great.
As I swung the hand-held blower, putting the final touches on a long day by clearing off the driveway, it occurred to me that a rather large strip of grass between the driveway and their next-door neighbor’s house had a lot of leaves as well. So, without questioning, I just went about cleaning it up. Halfway through, Bill’s wife confirmed that I was clearing the neighbor’s yard and not only would they not even appreciate it, but they’d probably complain. “They’re not very nice.” I figured – hey – I’m halfway through, and its not that much trouble. So I finished it up, realizing I’d never even meet these people. Call it good karma.
I was shot when I got home four hours later, and my muscles ached for another two days afterward (still sore right now) but – as I said – I can’t remember being so pleased with myself. My friend appreciated it so.
Did I expect anything in return? Absolutely, one hundred percent . . . no.
Sunday morning, however, when I went into my nine-year-old daughter’s church classroom to pick her up I received an ovation from the teacher and students. I wasn’t sure what it was for, until the teacher commended me for “helping my friend.”
“How did you know?” I asked her, stunned. “Your daughter shared it with the class this morning,” she told me.
Wow, something rubbed off. I wasn’t even aware that she had noticed. That may have felt better than the actual task had.
Oh, and those “unfriendly” neighbors, whose leaves I cleaned . . . they left a bottle of wine on my friend’s doorstep with a thank you note!
The Appreciation Marketing champion takes the opportunity to do for others with no thought of getting something in return. I’m certainly no saint, and don’t do these types of things nearly enough. But when I do, its these kind of stories that often result.
When in doubt, just do the right thing and you’ll always feel good about it.
Hint: You always know which is the right thing.