You, Yes you! can make a LOT of difference in someone’s lives merely by practicing the LOT principle. Listen, Observe, Tell
Does the name George Bailey ring a bell? He was the main character in the perennial classic Christmas movie “It’s a wonderful Life”. (Extra points if you get the bell reference.) When the movie begins, George is standing on a bridge, ready to jump off. He feels his life is meaningless – that he doesn’t matter. An angel appears and as George reviews his life he finds that he did make a difference after all. In the end all is well, it’s a wonderful life – and his angel gets his wings.
But, I’m no George Bailey, you say. I’m not sure I make a difference. I sometimes wonder this myself. Who am I to inspire others?
I haven’t started a multi-million dollar company; I’ve never played pro sports. I have not overcome major adversity –no near death experience, no major debilitating disease and I pretty much have most of my faculties. On the other hand, I have lived to what could be called a ripe old age and experienced success and failure. I have parented, started a business, married, divorced and even obtained a professional degree. Yup, I have stories to share — stories that might impact others. I have a quote on my office wall: “Your story can change someone else’s” I truly believe that. The stories we share can make a difference. To quote our current hero, Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson: “Why not you?”
Let me give you an example of how someone changed my life:
High school. The dark ages. Girls were taught typing, shorthand and homemaking skills. In ninth grade we were to make a four year plan of the classes we would take to complete high school graduation requirements. When the teacher, Mrs. McLaughlin saw my plan she remarked that I had not scheduled any classes I would need for college. College? I’m not going to college. People in my family do not go to college. Nope, we are not college people. Not remotely on the radar. To this day her reply stuck with me: “I hate to see a bright student not prepare for college”.
Bright student? Me? No one in my then 15 years ever told me I was bright. Me? Wow. What a revelation! I was impressed. I took Mrs. McLaughlin’s advice and took Algebra, geometry and even two years of classic Latin. Yup, Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.
Furthermore, I did go to college. When I became a student teacher, Mrs. McLaughlin was my master teacher. I had the privilege to tell her how she changed my life. And you know what? She didn’t even remember me or the conversation! It was just something she did because that is who she is. She was just doing what was natural to her. That’s just who she was.
That’s how easy it can be to completely change someone’s life. And often we don’t even know we are doing so. Not only did I go to college, ultimately I completed law school. I know that in my professional capacity I have and continue to impact lives. But what about the little day to day things we do.
You can do a LOT.
That’s my acronym for Listen Observe Talk.
Listening is not a passive thing and it involves paying attention to facial expression, body language. What is this person really saying? Feeling? Often after I have met with a client they tell me how much better they feel. How helpful I was. And all I did was LISTEN. Truly listening is the greatest gift we can give another person.
What did your barista look like this morning? Did you even notice her? Later at work, a coworker sighed deeply. Did you ask what was wrong? Did you make eye contact? It is amazing how people respond to eye contact. Culturally we are taught to do so but do we really? We look to the side of the eye, or the bridge of the nose. Truly make eye contact.
Have you ever noticed how someone reacts when you comment on their appearance, or the service they are providing, or their smile? Is there something they are obviously proud of on their desk or wall? Comment!
Remember: “Your story can change someone else’s” Sometimes just the reminder that we all share the human condition can give someone hope and courage. Not “I can top that one” but a heartfelt, “I understand. I went through this also and here’s what I did.” Or, perhaps, “I can’t even imagine how this must feel for you. How would you like me to help?” Talk, tell your story.
The following quote came across my Facebook page the other day:
“ONE KIND WORD CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S ENTIRE DAY.”
Think about it. One kind word can change someone’s entire day.
Here is my challenge to you.
Set out each day to make a difference in someone’s life. Do so by Listening,Observing, Talking.
The next time you are among other people, practice truly connecting with someone. Listen, Observe, Talk. After the first, do one more and one more.
I will give you a money back guarantee that by the end of the day your life will be different.
Yes, You can make a LOT of difference and impact lives.
I challenge you.