People who are doing better than good will be sensitive to the needs of others and do the little things that make a big difference.
Sometimes little things can make a big difference. One morning at IHOP, one of the places at which the Redhead (my wife) and I periodically enjoy a late breakfast, we were served by a lady from India who was pleasant and effective. A brief conversation revealed that her husband was a medical intern, and as we enjoyed our visit together, we experienced a delightful breakfast.
There was then a moment when the Redhead excused herself from the table. The waitress brought me the check. I signed it and included a $10 tip. The cost of breakfast was less than the tip. When the waitress returned from the cashier, I was seated in quiet contemplation. She approached me from behind, leaned over, and gave me a brief kiss on the cheek, saying, “Thank you, Sir! Thank you so much!” I was delightfully surprised.
Then it dawned on me that for me the $10 amounted to a simple “thank you.” For her it might have meant the meeting of an obligation. I always tip at least $10, regardless of whether the bill is less than that. The reason is because each of my three daughters served as waitresses while they were in school, and I well remember how thrilled they were when they received a $10 or, in some cases, a larger tip.
Sometimes when we have abundance, when we’ve been financially blessed, we neglect to value the feelings and needs of others. That little incident, which lasted only a brief moment, made a lasting impression on me—which leads to a very important point. A little kindness, a little thoughtfulness, a little compassion, can really impact the life of another person. And it takes so little time and involves such a small investment. Yet real joy can be the outcome. Little things do make a big difference.
Today I hope you will have an opportunity to say a word of encouragement, to give an extra big smile, to use a more enthusiastic tone of voice, or anything else that will give just a word of hope. The reality is, we never know but that the other person might be in the depths of despair, and a simple act of kindness could well literally be a lifesaver. In addition, it involves joy on the part of the gifter. Joy is what you experience when you do something for someone else, someone who cannot reciprocate your kindness. Think about it. Give it a shot today—and tomorrow, too!
Success—What It Is and Isn’t
What is success? It is many things to many people. Here are a few signs of success:
- Success is closing the door to your office at the end of the day with a smile of satisfied contentment crossing your face. It’s knowing that you did a good job and that those who interacted with you had a positive experience.
- Success is looking forward to getting home and seeing the people you love. It’s being mentally and emotionally free to share yourself with them and to be interested in them.
- Success is being loved by the people you love.
- Success is sitting down to pay the bills and knowing that you have enough money to cover them, this month and next month. It’s knowing that you have taken measures to ensure the financial security of your family in the event of your demise.
- Success is knowing where to turn when it seems that there’s nowhere to turn. Having a spiritual life is akin to eating food and drinking water. It’s necessary!
- Success is having interests or hobbies to call your own. It’s things that you personally anticipate doing again and again. Having interests gives you joy and peace.
- Success is waking up in the morning and feeling good. It’s knowing that you eat right and exercise regularly and that you do everything you personally can to ensure continued good health.
- Success is turning out the lights, slipping under the covers, and thinking to yourself, “It just doesn’t get much better than this!” It’s whispering a prayer of gratitude to your Creator before you fall into a deep, restful sleep.
And here are a few things that success is not:
- Success isn’t calling home from work for the fourth time this week, apologizing because you’re going to miss dinner with the family again.
- Success isn’t hurrying into the house and hiding behind closed doors or the television set because “After the day I’ve had, I need my space!”
- Success isn’t having all the riches in the world and still trying to figure out how to have more of all the riches in the world.
- Success isn’t physically going to a worship service and mentally writing a to-do list for when you get home.
- Success isn’t all work and no play.
- Success isn’t burning the candle at both ends and living on a diet of food that’s delivered through little windows.
- Success isn’t spending mental energy figuring out how to explain why your project isn’t going to come in on time, why you have to miss your child’s school play, why you can’t pay the bill in full as you promised, why your eyes are red and your blood pressure is going through the roof, why you’re canceling your golf game, and why you just don’t find any joy in living.
Success is directly related to having a balanced life. If any one area is out of sync, all the areas of your life suffer. Take the time to examine your life and take small steps to gain balance.
Keep Hitting the Bull’s-Eye
Somebody once said the difference between a big shot and little shot is that the big shot was the little shot who kept on shooting. There’s much truth in that witticism. The reality is, no matter what our target might be, we seldom hit it on the first try unless the target is low, which means the accomplishment—and the rewards—will be insignificant.
In bow shooting, experienced archers test the wind by using the first shot to judge its strength and direction, enabling them to zero in on the target with their following shots. In short, archers learn from their mistakes. That’s good advice for all of us. Success in business, athletics, science, politics, etc., seldom comes on the first effort. Walt Disney went bankrupt a number of times and had at least one nervous breakdown before he made it big. Athletic skills are acquired over a long period of time and after countless hours of practice. Authors by the hundreds can tell you stories by the thousands of those rejection slips before they found a publisher who was willing to “gamble” on an unknown.
It’s more than just a cliché that persistent, enthusiastic effort produces powerful, positive results, that failure is an event—not a person—and that the only time you must not fail is the last time you try. Whatever your target might be, chances are good that you’re not going to hit the bull’s-eye on the first effort you make at being “successful.” The key is persistence and the willingness to try again in the face of those early misses.
You can learn from those early mistakes, and if you do keep on shooting, it’s just a question of time before you, too, are hitting the bull’s-eye.
Discipline Is a Beautiful Word
In today’s social climate, many people look with disfavor on the word “discipline” because they simply do not understand that discipline means “to instruct or educate, to inform the mind, to prepare by instructing in correct principles and habits.” No one who achieves greatness does so without discipline. Sybil Stanton, in her beautiful book The Twenty-Five Hour Woman, accurately states that “discipline is not on your back, needling you with imperatives, it is at your side, nudging you with incentives.” It’s true that when you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, the day’s going to come when you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them. It’s also true that life is tough, but when you are tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you.
Today many people want to be free to do as they please, but consider this: If you take the train off the tracks, it’s free—but it can’t go anywhere. Take the steering wheel out of the automobile, and it’s under the control of no one, but it is useless. The reality is that until the sailor disciplines himself to be obedient to the compass, he will have to stay within sight of shore. However, once he is obedient to that compass, he can go anywhere in the world the sailboat will take him. Yes, discipline is the missing ingredient that will make the difference in your life. Discipline yourself today so you can have a better life tomorrow. That means I really will SEE YOU AT THE TOP!