Are you changing the world? Most of us would give an answer to the negative if asked that question. “I am just paying bills and living.” is what I have been told. Here is the shocking truth – we are all changing the world. To me it is funny that people think of grand gestures and accomplishments when they think of changing the world. While it is true those have a great impact on society and certainly do change the world, it is not the most common way the world is changed. I am going to give you two examples of how people changed the world for many without even knowing.
Recently, one of my coworkers, Jeff, called it quits after 35 years with the Postal Service. You can see Jeff in the picture above. As you can probably guess by looking at him, he was a very congenial fellow. Almost always in good humor. Jeff made coming to work a much greater pleasure. As his last few days were drawing to a close, he began to realize something he had not noticed. Jeff had spent 23 of his 35 years with the postal service delivering mail on the same route. As he delivered, he undoubtedly shared the same good humor and pleasant demeanor that he shared with his coworkers with his customers as well. As Jeff told some of his customers that he was retiring, they formed a Facebook group dedicated to making sure he had a fitting send off. On his final day at work, several dignitaries from the postal service took time out of their busy schedules to let Jeff know how much he was appreciated. Before he left to deliver one last time, I had a brief conversation with him. He told me he never realized what an impact he had on his customers lives. “Some ladies were pregnant when I first started delivering and now their children are in college.” he informed me. He was humbled at the outpouring of appreciation from coworkers and customers. “You never know how much you impact people’s lives.” he said. Jeff certainly had a positive impact on every life he touched and his presence will be missed both on his mail route and at the office where he was such a pleasure to work with.
I certainly understood Jeff’s situation. My own journey is quite similar. For the first 13 years of my career working with the Post Office, I worked in an office in the small village of Greendale. While assisting customers at the front counter, I did my best to make it the best few minutes of their day. The way I figure it, they are stuck there shipping something and I was stuck there working, we should have the most fun we can. I have a genuine interest and love for people and valued the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful folks while working there. I never thought much of it until one day on vacation.
It a sunny tropical vacation I took with my mother, her husband and my sister. I was relaxing by the pool with some rum. What did I hear? “Look it is the guy from the Post Office!” Even in a different country I ran into someone who wanted to thank me for being nice to them at the post office. I began to realize how much people appreciate being valued and treated with respect. The crazy thing is that this continues to this day. Just last Sunday as Margie and I were packing up our equipment after a night of DJing, a man came up and asked if he could ask me a question. Although tempted to alert him to the fact he just did, I assured him I would be happy to answer it if I could. “My wife told me you were the friendly guy from the Post Office in Greendale. Is that true?” I have not worked in that office for 10 years, but here it was, someone remembering me and the service I gave them.
With that appreciation comes a great responsibility. Knowing what an impact you can have with a simple interaction causes me to treat people with great care no matter where I am. When I DJ, I always encourage people. I tell Margie that I have 3 goals when we work together. I want to either make someone feel good about themselves, make them laugh or, if it is a couple, encourage a feeling of love between them. No matter where I am, whether it is the grocery store, a coffee shop or just walking down the street, I do my best to leave every soul with a little more cheer. In that way I know I am changing the world. I have seen Jeff do it, and I know that you can do it too. When you treat people with kindness and respect you change their world and positively affect the world in general. I encourage you to think of that next time you send a text message, pick up the phone or leave the house. In those moments, and countless others, you are changing the world.