Yesterday we honored Martin Luther King Jr here in the United States and it got me thinking about the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of others.
Obviously Martin Luther King made an outsized difference. And most of us don’t have the ability, desire or opportunity for that.
But the way each of us behaves influences others, sometimes in surprising ways.
Inspired by a Performance
My daughter Carla, a musician, once shared this story with me.
She was to perform a suite of songs for violin and voice that had just been written for her by composer Lisa Bielawa. A few days before the concert, a close friend of Carla’s was lost in a tragic rafting accident.
On the night of the concert, Carla was distraught.
As she performed, tears streamed down her face. She did her best to compose herself, and she finished her performance feeling exposed and raw.
A year later, Carla got an email from a woman she didn’t know who explained that she had been at Carla’s concert that emotional night. And she had been so moved that in the middle of the concert, without thinking, she had reached for the hand of the stranger sitting next to her and grasped it through the rest of the performance.
Only after the music was over did she introduce herself to the man whose hand she was holding.
That spontaneous interaction turned out to be the beginning of a lasting relationship. And the woman was writing to invite Carla to perform at their wedding!
Your Behavior is Contagious
Of course, unlike Carla’s experience, the difference you make is usually more subtle. And you many never even find out about it.
But how you behave and what you say matters.
- When you are kind, you inspire kindness.
- When you speak the truth, you help other people do the same.
- When you laugh, you motivate other people to have fun with you.
- When you cry, your tears can open the hearts of others.
With your actions and words every day, you have the chance to make a difference in someone else’s life. And they, in turn, will make a difference in the lives of others.
Though few of us can make a difference as profound as Martin Luther King Jr, each of us can be kind, open and honest.
We can work on being helpful and considerate in the things we do every day. And over time, together, we, too, will collectively change the world.
Spread Some Good Will Today, and Each Day Forward
Pay attention to how the way you behave effects other people. Make sure that the way you talk and act reflects the kind of behavior you would like other people to catch from you. Try smiling instead of frowning. Try reaching out an touching someone’s arm. Try sharing your thoughts and asking someone for theirs.
When you’re just a little kinder… a little warmer, your kindness will ripple and have a much greater impact than you realize.
In what ways have you been influenced by other people’s kind behavior? Share your experiences in the comments.