How important is uplifting people? Can something so simple have the power to change someone’s life trajectory?
Can it be life-changing?
His name was Steve. He was 9 years old and mostly kept to himself. Part of the reason was that he was different from everyone around him. He was blind.
In addition, he really didn’t believe in himself or have much confidence. His teacher saw something different though. She saw more...
Maybe you have had someone in your life that saw more in you. Maybe they showed you what you were truly capable of. Maybe they were someone who believed in you even more than you believed in yourself!
This particular teacher saw how gifted, how talented and how special Steve was. And one single demonstration of this changed everything for this little boy. This particular day literally changed his life and made him the legend he is today.
Here’s the thing though, most of the people I meet drastically underestimate their impact, their contribution, and their ability to lead others. The truth is we are all leaders the question is, “How are we leading?”
Whether we like it or not there are people in our lives who are looking to us for guidance. There are people in our lives who look to us for support and we influence more than we believe.
Here’s something shocking about our impact on people and the contagious effect it has.
Studies show if your friend smokes your odds increase 61%. That’s quite an increase, here’s where it gets interesting though…
If a friend of a friend smokes your odds increase 29%!
If a friend of a friend of a friend smokes you are still 11% more likely to smoke!
This is known as the contagion effect. And just like it can negatively impact people around us it can positively impact people a well. It’s your choice.
Going back to Steve’s story, one day during class there was an unusual scratching in the class room.
No one was quite sure what or who it was coming from. However, they began realizing that it was a mouse and all the kids in the class started freaking out.
The teacher started reassuring the class and calming them down. She then did something totally unexpected.
She asked Steve to find the mouse. Shocked by the request he started walking around and listening and found it despite the fact that no one else could hear it. Never had someone had so much confidence in him and believed in him so much!
This single event became the defining moment for no other than Stevie Wonder.
Now that is quite the demonstration of believing in people. What about simpler strategies? Can those make a difference too?
Behavioral Scientists Grant and Gino tested this with fundraising call center. They took half the center and had the director visit and thank them for their contribution. This was exactly what she said,
“I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university”
How did this simple statement affect performance?
The following week the group made 50% more calls than the control group! Imagine how that translated into more money raised!
Herb Kelleher former CEO of Southwest Airline stated, “I feel that you have to be with your employees through all their difficulties, that you have to be interested in them personally. I want them to know that Southwest will always be there for them”
Now, one of the big objections people have about trying to make a difference or lead others is they feel like their efforts won’t make a difference.
There is a story by Loren Eisely that shows the truth about this...
“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
"It made a difference for that one.”
Here’s the truth, each person matters. Your actions, your emotions, your presence has a rippling effect that is farther than you can imagine.