I am constantly surprised at how easy it is to improve someone’s day.
I’ve discovered that if I listen, really listen, I’ll find all kinds of opportunities to make a difference. And you can, too.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘But I have work. And chores. And errands. And kids. And a list.’ Yes you do. And so do I. But I vowed 20 years ago the LIST would never be more important than a person.
Now, this was a bold move for me because I looooooove my lists. I thrive on lists. Sometimes I add items to a list after completion just so I can gleefully cross them off. Truth! One particularly hectic time last month, I had a list for every day of the week. And I crossed off each bullet-pointed task on those lists like a crazed list Nazi.
Oh—and I also love a detailed calendar with days broken down hourly. I document appointments and addresses and notes and phone numbers—in pencil—like I’m a dignitary’s social secretary. Tucked between those calendar pages are my lists. I checked just now and counted six lists nestled in this week’s pages. Six!
Yesterday’s list was long, but I got a last-minute request to ferry a friend from a doctor’s appointment to home. That errand came with an invitation for lunch and coffee and, undoubtedly, snorts of laughter. I put the list aside and had a delightful few hours with a wise and funny woman.
Monday’s list was even longer, but I had a hurting friend who needed some joy. So I put the list aside, loaded up my car with fall flowers, and planted every one of them in her porch pots as she sat with me and gushed over their beauty. Two hours: worth it.
Friday’s list is ridiculous, but a friend is moving. She’s excited and sad and overwhelmed and exhausted. So I will attack that list until 2:00, when the moving truck arrives at the new house, and it’s time to unload and unpack and organize. That should put a spark into the process. It will be multiple hours of hard work and immense satisfaction. Ahhh…
So I invite you to start listening more to needs, spoken and unspoken, around you—real opportunities to say “no” to the list and “yes” to people. You may discover, as I did, that a line through a completed task has nowhere near the delight as a smile of gratitude.