Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Your Career and You: "They're Not Always 'Little' Things"

Once in a while I wander off mentally and start beating myself up for not “making a difference.” It's a "me" thing, and I've gotten used to it.

I was halfway down that path this morning when my phone rang.

From the other end of the line came a little giggle as my wife, Margaret, excitedly told me that one of the senior people in her company had just returned from vacation and had brought her some chocolates and a little gift.

Now Margaret routinely brings back souvenirs for her friends and co-workers when we go away. But she doesn’t expect others to reciprocate…this is just something she always has done.

And I'm sure the person who brought her these gifts was doing what she would usually do.

But, as I listened to the sheer joy in Margaret's voice, I realized that what we might think of as a “little thing” just might be seen by others as BIG.

And that’s something important to remember as you’re interacting with your co-workers, your friends, strangers who you meet in the course of your day…the actions that you take, the things that you say, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, can make a world of difference to someone else.

I try to emphasize this in my classroom conversations at Curry College, where I’m full-time faculty in the Communication Department and teach most of the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration courses, as well as at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area.

I caution my students that actions, words, and deeds are powerful forces for good as well as for harm. And I urge them to never forget that the person on the receiving end of something you do or say will then make a decision based on your action, word, or deed.

I’m not trying to get all navel-worshippy deep here. I’m just thinking about the feeling of absolute glee that a simple action on the part of one person (way higher in the “food chain,” by the way) brought to someone else.

And, you know what? My day has gotten brighter as well!

“And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”
--Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, “Pleasure” [1923]

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