In the next few days, you will be seeing some articles about making plans
for 2008. These writings will be focused primarily on setting goals and
improving personally, which is good. But I’d like to slant things a little
differently in this “New Year’s” column by asking the question, “How will
you impact others in the coming year?”
The question was triggered by a woman I encountered as I entered a
convenience store. If she’d had a gun, I’d probably be dead. As I approached
the entrance, she was coming toward the door on her way out. I opened the
door and waited for her to exit. With a huff, she burst through the doorway,
cursed me, and blasted toward her car. Needless to say, I was rather
I asked the wide-eyed young woman behind the checkout counter, “What was
that all about?” She apologized to me for the actions of the huffy customer
who was upset over her bill. The clerk explained that she had been the
recipient of a few chosen expletives from the loose cannon, which flowed
over onto me, the next person the cannon encountered. I happened to be in
the wrong place at the wrong time.
That’s the way life is, though. We may set goals, make plans and have
certain ideas about our attitudes and actions, but the people with whom we
come in contact can impact our lives when we least expect it. Thank
goodness, we usually can shrug-off such influences and move on. Some people,
however, are not as fortunate.
I read where Timothy McVeigh, when sentenced to die for the 1995 bombing
of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people, said he
would be the victor at his death. He bragged, “It’s 168 to one.” Think of
the lives impacted here. Think of the people who can’t shrug-off being in
the wrong place at the wrong time.
I also read about a 33-year-old man confessing to sexually abusing an
11-year-old female victim “hundreds of times” from when she was seven years
old to the present. That’s going to be hard for her to shrug-off.
The point is, we are responsible for one another. Our thoughts and
actions impact others, and their thoughts and actions impact us. Maybe not
to the extent of the situation of Timothy McVeigh or the 33-year-old child
abuser, but to some degree, either negatively or positively, we constantly
influence one another – at home, at work and in all of society.
Late one evening in February 1965, a black woman was standing near her
stranded car on the side of an Alabama highway. Soaking wet, trying to
endure a lashing rainstorm, she attempted to flag down someone for help. A
young white man stopped, took her to safety, helped her get a wrecker for
her car and located a taxi to take her to her destination. She was in a
hurry to complete her journey, but thanked the young man and quickly wrote
down his name and address.
A week later, a knock came on the young man’s door. To his surprise, a
giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was
attached, which read: “Thank you so very much for assisting me on the
highway the other night. The rain had drenched not only my clothes but also
my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my
dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for
helping me and unselfishly serving others.” The note was from the wife of
the legendary musician/singer, Nat King Cole.
How will you impact others in 2008?
(c) Carl Mays is an author and speaker at over 3,000 events. To inquire
about his speaking to your group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone
865-436-7478. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, Winning Thoughts,
Anatomy Of A Leader, People of Passion, and Are We Communicating Yet?, are
available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and
other Internet locations.
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