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Small Acts of Service

Patrick Nelson, April 22, 2019

Imagine you’re on an airplane about to go to sleep and suddenly you’re startled by the piercing scream of not one – but two – kids. And it doesn’t stop. And the flight is supposed to last several hours.  And you’re exhausted.
Now, imagine that those screams are coming from your children and there is nothing you can do about it. 
Well, that’s exactly what happened to my wife and me as we began our recent family vacation.  Once the plane was in the air, our 1 and 3-year-olds had the most massive meltdowns of their life.  Now, I’m not talking about whimpering sobs.  I’m talking about lying on the floor, kicking and screaming tantrums … at the same time … for 20 minutes straight.
Prior to the flight, my wife and I read all the articles and watched all the YouTube videos on how to keep toddlers calm on airplanes.  We didn’t want to be that family.  We ordered numerous different activities from Amazon and had 2 iPads on standby as a last resort, along with a stash of snacks.  We felt prepared.  Until, of course, we realized that there wasn’t a trinket in the world that would calm our kids down.  To make matters worse, any help I offered only intensified my daughters’ screams. 
As an Army Veteran, I’m used to running toward the burning building to put out the fire.  The only thing I could do in this situation was slink back in my seat as I watched my amazing wife from afar attempt to calm and cuddle our girls amidst the glares of annoyed passengers.

The reason I tell you this story is because something awesome and unexpected happened at the end of the flight. One of the flight attendants, Santio, came and gave my wife a bag filled with some goodies and a very sweet handwritten note. And it wasn’t just the bag and the note that lifted my wife’s spirits, but the expression of empathy in his body language as he spoke to her.
This reminds me that the smallest acts of service can have the biggest impacts on others. We all have the ability to impact someone else’s life in a meaningful way today. Here are a couple of ideas that you can do right now:

  • Pick up the phone and call someone and let them know how much you value them. Whether it is a family member, friend, or coworker, tell them you are calling to let them know how great they are and how much they mean to you.
  • Write a note. It’s a classic move that does not get old but unfortunately happens less and less. Write a note and put it in the mail. How many people actually receive personal correspondence in these days? Can’t bring yourself to putting pen to paper, send them a text instead.
  • Give that person a shout out on social media. Let everyone know why they are awesome.
  • Take them out for coffee and listen. Let the conversation be about them. What have they been up to? What are their goals for the year? What’s their dream vacation?

Isn’t it amazing the impact we can have others? I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” 

-Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert

Share: | Tags: Leadership Behaviors, Leadership Conversations, service based leadership