“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” –Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
“Would you like a towel?”
It was a simple enough question. Except for where we were, who was asking, and the simple act of courage about to be displayed. Let me explain.
I was preparing to speak to almost 800 leaders from Mortenson Family Dental in Louisville, KY. To ensure there would not have to be any awkward moments during the 90 minute conversation, I visited the restroom ahead of time.
After washing my hands I reached for a towel, struggled grabbing onto it, and then heard the above question come from behind me.
Turning around, I saw a young man, maybe 11. I thanked him and said I’d love a towel. He grabbed a couple and handed them to me. Thanking him again, I asked his name.
“I’m Ben. Ben Mortenson.”
He then extended his hand to shake mine.
He gave me a firm handshake, making eye contact the entire time.
My friends, here’s an 11-year-old kid, in a crowded public restroom, slowing down, paying attention, seeing a need, and taking action to make a difference. Here’s a kid shaking the hand of a guy he doesn’t even know…and a guy who doesn’t even have fingers!
As we spoke while walking back toward the conference area I thought of times that adults saw me struggling with something, and opted to put their head down and walk on. I thought of a time when I dropped my change at a crowded Starbucks. Coins flew everywhere. I got down on my hands and knees, struggled mightily picking them up one-by-one, as fellow customers stepped over me to order their drinks.
I thought of a time in church when I went to shake hands and offer peace to a stranger in front of me. The man turned, faced me, extended his hand, saw mine, quickly pulled back his hand, turned around and crossed his arms. I was 12. I remember it vividly to this day.
And, truthfully, I thought of all the times when I’ve crossed my arms to the needs of others, pretended not to see an opportunity to serve, and went about my life. I thought of the times when I’ve crossed a street to avoid panhandlers, when I’ve let calls go to voicemail because I was too busy or when I’ve been too focused on my needs to do little things that might positively benefit others.
He reminds us to step into every situation, every day, on fire with love rather than fear. And he reminds us that the little things matter profoundly and are infinitely the most important.
So as you begin your day and enter into your week, keep your eyes open, your arms uncrossed, and your heart on fire for others.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
When has someone uncrossed their arms, took action (big or little!) and made a difference in your life? Share in the comments below and I’ll randomly pick the author of one comment to receive an autographed galley copy of my new book, On Fire.