By Barry Lenson
In 1999, I had the privilege of co-writing a book, Simple Steps: Ten things you can do to create an exceptional life with Dr. Arthur Caliandro. Arthur was the Senior Minister at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. He was a wonderful man. We met weekly during our writing project.
Simple Steps offers many pieces of do-able advice on leading an exceptional life. One of these ideas seems to fall in line with the philosophy of positivity that has also been created by Evan Hackel, the founder and principal of Ingage Consulting. Evan has written about positivity on this blog and in his own books, including Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generation.
Today, I would like to share this strategy for improving positivity with you. I have tried to use it daily since 1999, and it has really worked for me.
Positivity Is a Binary Thing
Arthur told me that every day offers us opportunities to take either the higher or the lower path. Here are some examples – some from Arthur’s book and some from my own experience.
- You can pause to hold the door for another person, or you can just hurry on.
- You can choose to be patient when you are in line behind another person, or you can choose to be bothered.
- You can let another car merge into the flow of traffic ahead of you, or you can assert your right of place and cut him off.
- If you are in line at an ATM and the person ahead of you is wearing beautiful clothing, you can say, “You look wonderful today” or you can stay silent.
- You can help other shoppers in a grocery store if they need assistance reaching an item, or you can just hurry on because you don’t have the time.
- You can thank the counter worker who hands you impeccably prepared clothing at a dry cleaner’s, or you can grab your clothes and hurry on.
- If you notice a neighbor who is watering the plants in her yard when you are taking your evening stroll, you can say something as simple as, “Your yard is beautiful” or you can just hurry past.
- If one of your children worked hard to complete a school assignment the night before, you can say, “I am so proud of you” or you could just drink your coffee and focus on your own day.
You Know What to Do . . . Now Do It!
Those are only a few examples. Arthur explained to me that if we take daily opportunities to take the higher road – to be kind – we not only transform the world, we transform our own lives too. It’s a simple philosophy, but I would encourage you to put it into practice. I think Evan Hackel would agree, it is a simple change that will quickly transform your life. I know it has changed mine.
A Simple Story of Arthur Caliandro’s Kindness
During one of the meetings I had with Arthur, I happened to mention to him that my daughter Olivia had hit three home runs in a softball game the day before. One of her home runs was a grand slam. The head of the town’s softball program told me she believed it was the first grand slam ever hit in the town program.
When I was at home writing later that afternoon, my phone rang. Olivia picked up the call and I heard her say, “Yes . . . yes . . . thank you” before she hung up.
I asked her who called, and she said, “Dr. Caliandro.”
I asked her, “Did he want to speak with me?”
And she simply said, “No.”
I asked why he had called and she said, “He called to congratulate me on my home runs.”
Now, Arthur Caliandro was the Senior Minister at one of the largest and most important churches in New York. He was a legendary preacher who had replaced the legendary Norman Vincent Peale there. He was famous. But he noticed one detail in a little girl’s life, and he chose to act kindly.
I’ve never forgotten that. And I think that if you stop to think about it, you too will find opportunities to do things that will never be forgotten either. And what a difference that will make.