So yesterday, I was at a groundbreaking event for a charity that my company supports. It’s a fantastic program bringing seniors in need of care together with young children who lift their morale and, in turn, teach the children empathy and kindness. This is one of my favorite parts of my job. There were tons of people there: sponsors, dignitaries, parents, seniors and much to my surprise, an old acquaintance of mine.Ann came bouncing up to me with a wide smile on her face and gave me a huge hug. I was happy to see her again. She worked for my company six or seven years ago, although only for a few months. I remember her as bright and talented; we’d missed her when she left. It turns out that Ann works in community relations for the charity we’d supported; what a small world this is.
After the pictures were taken and the shovels did their work, Ann made her way back over to me to tell me a “funny story” that she just had to share. Two days before our meeting, Ann was presenting in front of a group of local business leaders hoping to generate financial support for another arm of the charity, helping at-risk teens. During the event, Ann mentioned that she used to work for my company. One of the gentlemen there asked Ann if she knew me. Of course she did, said Ann. She told him that I had been her trainer way back when – that I’d taught her how to speak in public.Now, this was news to me. Way back when, I was an Account Executive and Ann was a new hire. As I recall it, Ann and I didn’t have much interaction at all, although we did spend two days together out marketing – training some branches and meeting some people. It was part of a normal routine to me, yet to Ann it was a lot more.
Ann continued her story. She is extremely happy today, living out a dream of helping make the world a better place. She told me that she never imagined she would be able to serve her community as she does today… never thought that she could be the face of an amazing charity, and that she learned how to do it from me. Ann thanked me for making a difference in her life, one that makes a major difference in the lives of thousands who so desperately need help.
Yesterday was a humbling morning. I am no public speaking guru. I love my job here in the auto industry, but have often wondered if I should be doing something more – something that changes lives. I found out yesterday that I had, but I just didn’t know it.My boss often likes to speak about the “pebble in the pond” when it comes to business. That tiny little pebble creates ripples that become wider and greater the further they travel, and it’s our job as leaders to see those ripples. We drop many pebbles in our everyday lives. Two short, almost forgettable days in my life a long time ago changed Ann’s life in ways I never could have imagined. And Ann saves lives every day as she fights for homebound seniors, disadvantaged youth and working parents. I never knew how wide the ripples I unintentionally had made would become.
What you’re doing today may seem routine, part of your job or almost forgettable. And you may be changing one life – or many – as you do it. I’m going to remember that the next time I say hello to a new hire. I hope you do too.