Avoiding the Missed Opportunities

I wasn’t feeling my best yesterday afternoon, having completely abandoned my rigorous Gut Health promoting diet in the name of “letting loose” and “only living once” – #YOLO – the processed meats, the non-organic foods, the fat, and yes, the alcohol, mixed with not-enough-water had me feeling in a bit of a funk.

So, imagine my surprise when the CSAE Summer Summit 2018 closing keynote speaker Drew Dudley, managed to catch and hold my attention. I can’t say enough about that presentation; and if you’re following my Twitter account, you’ll know I’ve given it the old college try.

Of course, you know, that the power of the keynote, lies not just in the speaker’s ability to catch and hold your attention, but also in the messages that are “sticky” that hold your attention and thought, long after the applause of have died down, the lights turned off, and everyone has gone home.

So, what am I still thinking about? A couple of things:

First – I’m still so proud, that I could honestly say that I had said the words “I’m Proud of You” in the previous 24 hours (disclaimer: I haven’t had occasion to say them since). I’ve actually said “I’m Proud of You” a couple of times this week. So often we miss those opportunities to pay someone the simplest of compliments. I’m also incredibly lucky that I was raised in an environment where positive reinforcement was as common – if not more – than the opposite.

This lesson is just a gentle reminder to me that I should never hesitate to write the card, send the flowers, let someone know I’m cheering for them and that I’m in their corner. I hope it’s a reminder to you too: do something about it right now, stop reading right here (but bookmark the page) and send a message to someone to tell them about something they are doing that makes you proud, that makes a difference in your life, that made you smile, that made your day.

Second – although related the first, I am struck by the underlying message of how important kindness is in our everyday. One of my resolutions for 2018 is to consciously look for opportunities to do small acts of kindness. I was incredibly moved by Drew’s story about a homeless man and the young man he befriended – too often we rush through out days not ever “seeing” those less fortunate around us.

A few years ago, I was in NYC and walked out of a CVS with my usual provisions – water (because New York tap water is disgusting, I’m sorry) and trail mix (because I don’t eat diary, its easier to eat fruit and nuts for breakfast, than search for butter and cheese free options) – I spotted a man about my age sitting with a sign that said “Homeless War Vet”, I promptly deposited the entire bag of water and snacks at his feet and marveled at how many of his “Fellow Americans” were able to walk right by someone who may well have fought to keep them free, there in Manhattan, mere blocks from the World Trade Centre. I heard him say, “Thank You” but he never looked up.

Our small kindnesses need not always be directed to the homeless, the downtrodden, the less fortunate; we see our neighbours, our peers, the lady at the grocery store struggling with her bags – it is so easy to offer a helping hand. My beautiful friend Daina works with the homeless and those struggling with mental illness in Toronto, and his incredible advocacy has moved me to think about those less fortunate, which is perhaps why it is often top of mind for me.

For personal safety, I don’t like to stop and open my wallet on busy streets (even less so on secluded ones), but I do keep coins in my car for when I’m stopped at lights and see someone asking for change. My car (which I’ve had for a year and a day) doesn’t have a logical place to keep these coins as my last one, but this week’s talk has renewed my resolve to keep a few dollars on-hand. As a bonus Minimalism tip: refilling this stash is a great way to keep your wallet organized and free of too much extra change.

Ultimately – I’m just using this as a prompt to say focused on the small interactions that have the most potential for impact (what Drew Dudley calls the Lollipop Moments – seriously watch the video link). To not miss the chance to swing at the pitches that life throws at you.

I challenge everyone to look for those moments, today, this week, this month, and every day. What can you do today to avoid a missed opportunity? You’ll feel lighter for letting the goodwill go free, and feel fewer regrets for what you could have said or done to brighten another person’s day.


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