I want to tell you a story ... no, actually it's not a STORY, because it's true. Borderline unbelievable, but true all the same. (Sorry, no graphics, no photos, no cutesie stuff. But GOOD stuff, all the same.)
I have a friend, a mentor, a trainer, a coach. He is all of these, my friend. Actually until a few days ago, "friend" was not on the list ... perhaps "acquaintance" was a better word, as he knows thousands of people and nicely remembers my face and name whenever we cross paths, but I'm sure, because of who he is, he strives to make everyone feel remembered. All the same, I have always treasured being in his vicinity and so have many, many other people.
Uhm, okay that was a LIE.
Truth be told, the first time I ever trained with him, I thought him an egotistical ass. I literally had to talk myself into getting up and going to subsequent sessions, because I didn't like the fact that I was getting more wrinkles than I needed from wincing at his derogatory comments and, frankly his unnecessary rudeness.
Not at ME, of course, I'm always teacher's pet. In this case I was probably a pet ROCK, but a pet all the same. But what he taught was so important and so dang GOOD, I would manage to drag my butt up and out to his training sessions without fail.
In fact, he was so dang good at what he did, a year later I took his course again for a refresher, even though I said to myself, "Self? Why put yourself through the torture? He's a pain in the arse. Brilliant, but a pain in the arse."
Fast forward another year. In fact, almost two. Time for another refresher course.
This time I couldn't wait. I was actually looking forward to it. Other previous students were saying to me, "My Goodness, how can you take it again. He's such a $#@!&!" My reply immediately was, "No, he's not anymore. I think he's had an epiphany. He's now the kinder, gentler Fred."
So, now for the crux of this story.
This year, after the second or third session, I felt compelled to write him an e-mail. I won't share it with you verbatim, but it basically said, "Fred. Great class. I need to tell you that I've noticed a change in you and that I saw light bulbs going off in everyone's heads in class today. It was an extraordinary day and you have become an extraordinary person. You are now the kinder, gentler Fred." Or something like that. (In the words of Fred, if you can say something with "blah", then don't say "blah blah blah!")
He wrote me back a funny, "AW, Shucks, Dorothy" and that was the end of it ... or so I thought.
This week's class rolls around and towards lunch break, he slips a yellow envelope in front of me and says, "That's for you."
I start to open it, but he says, no, no, no. Not now." A short time later, he asked to chat with me privately and what he said truly changed my life.
He told me he'd never received an e-mail before that had so touched him. He very quietly explained that I was very right. He'd had an epiphany several years ago and he WAS changed ... he was the kinder, gentler Fred. He explained that he realized he'd been given "gifts" and those gifts were from God, who is his power source. And since he was given such wonderful gifts, it is only fitting that he share with others who have been his power sources. He then told me that last week I was his power source.
He hugged me and told me he loved me and we went back to class and that was that.
During lunch break, as I was pulling out of the driveway I remembered the yellow envelope. I opened it, thinking it was a nice written thank you or something equivalent. What I saw literally made me almost backend the car in front of me.
It was a check for a very generous amount. Now, Fred had no idea how difficult my life is right now. He had no idea that I had a very real need for a chunk of change in just a few days. He no idea that as he wrote that check his power source, namely God, had his hand on the quill.
For, in fact, that check was written out, almost EXACTLY to the penny for the amount of what I needed, plus ten percent, so that I could tithe at church this week.
I went home to meet my son, who has only been back from Iraq for a few short months and who came home to a lot of not happy STUFF, and I said, "Son, I need to tell you a story." His eyes grew wide as I ended my story and showed him the yellow envelope and what was inside. I swear he wiped a tear away ... my big, tough soldier boy. I then said, "I hope this reminds you that the world is filled with good people and that there is HOPE."
I went back to class that afternoon and when we were finished, I shared MY story with Fred, who now knows that he not only changed my life that day, but perhaps by son's life, too.
Fred taught me several years ago about the Get By Giving philosophy, but I'd never personally known the power of it until a few days ago. My life is changed, and all because I took the time to send a nice e-mail to someone.
So, I challenge all of you ... to do something nice for someone today. Tell someone they're wonderful, kiss your wife, hug your kids, volunteer somewhere that makes a difference. Change a life ... change YOUR life.
And watch the power of "You Get By Giving".