A Simple Lesson that Can Change Your Life

Steven Gaffney Have you ever heard the phrase, “We don’t know, what we don’t know”? This phrase simply means that the way things appear, may not be as they truly are and what we think is going on, may not be what is really going on… in fact, it may be that what is really going on is completely outside the scope of what we believe to be possible. It is easy to jump to conclusions, but instead let us check the facts first. This sounds like common sense, but how well or how often do we stop and check the facts before drawing conclusions? Here’s a marvelous example of what amazing things can happen…

The following story came from Linda Vittori (a participant in one of my recent seminars).

    “A while back, my husband and I ordered pizza. After 45 minutes we called to find out when we could expect delivery. We called again after an hour and finally after an hour and fifteen minutes we called and cancelled our order. As we were walking out the door to go grab a bite, our pizza delivery lady showed up with our pizza. My husband and I told her we called and cancelled our order and now we didn’t want the pizza. She apologized for being late and told us we could have the pizza for free. We told her “No, thanks. We decided to go out to eat.”

    All of a sudden she started to cry, “My father died last week and today is the first time I’ve really felt that he’s gone.” She couldn’t stop crying while she told us how she was getting lost in our neighborhood all night even though she delivers pizza there all the time. She said the people in the last home she delivered to started yelling at her for being late and she felt terrible about that, too. I threw my arms around her and hugged her tight. My husband stepped up and did the same. We paid for the pizza and invited her in to have dinner with us.

    A couple of weeks later, there was a knock on the door and there stood Vicky the pizza lady. She told us she wanted to buy us a gift but there was no gift that could ever express the appreciation she felt for our kindness that night. Instead she said when she drives by our home she sends good wishes our way.

    One night my husband and I were driving home and we happened to be behind Vicky. We live on a corner and while she drove straight ahead, I’m sure she didn’t know we were behind her when we turned onto our street. As we watched her drive by, we could see her arm waving toward our home -- throwing good wishes our way.

    Vicky gave us an immeasurable gift … she gave us an unforgettable life lesson.”

Maybe someone who is not returning our calls is not trying to be disrespectful, maybe they just didn’t receive the messages because they were out of town and did not change their voice mail accordingly. Maybe they did receive our messages but are embarrassed to call and let you know they are behind schedule. Or maybe did not do what they said they would do, and by not calling, they are avoiding the anticipated conflict.

Maybe when someone snaps at us, it has nothing to do with us. May instead they are having some personal problems at home (i.e. like an elderly parent who is sick, or a child who is not doing well in school, or maybe they are suffering from marital problems). Maybe they are under stress or feeling extreme pressure about work issues. The result is they take it out on us…but it really has nothing to do with us.

I am not making a judgment about the behavior being right or wrong; I am just saying that things are not always as they appear…. And one thing that does not inspire anyone to open up to let us know what is really going on (or even to change their behavior), is starting the conversation with accusations or with “an attitude.” Instead, remember to check things out with a little compassion and understanding before moving forward with a decision. Doing so can produce wonderful dividends in our life and in others lives…as it did for Linda and Vicky. Let Linda and Vicky inspire us all to implement this simple lesson, a simple lesson that can make a huge difference in our personal interactions, relationships, and lives.

Copyright 2005, Steven Gaffney Company, All Rights Reserved

Category: Work-Life, Balance
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