I may not be the best friend, boss, father, husband, brother, son or person in the world, but let it be known that I at least try. I wake up every morning with the desire to make an impact in someone’s life. It doesn’t need to be a grand contribution, but I do try to go to bed at night leaving the world better than when I woke up. Before I close my eyes, I take inventory on my day and think of ways I might have contributed to the betterment of others. Some days are better than others and sometimes I have to make up today for a misstep from yesterday. Nobody is perfect.
Random thought? How many dead people do you still have saved in your phone? I lost count at around 10. I was looking up a number the other day and I ran across the name and number of an old friend that I had not spoken to in several years. Not because we lost contact, but because he died. So let me tell you about my dear deceased friend Don and the contributions he made to my life and career.
I met Don in 1997. It was prior to a concert my radio station was putting on for the city of San Angelo (it wasn’t a well-attended event). My job was to pick Don up from the hotel and bring him to the event. I had been in radio for a little less than two years at that point and had heard enough stories about him to feel like I had a grasp of who he was and what he did. Don, in laymen’s terms, was a consultant to both the radio and record industries and had been for decades prior to me even thinking about getting into the radio business. Don was an O-G in the industry and had seen and experienced more things than most of us would in 3 lifetimes. He knew everyone and the fact that he cared enough to get to know me, a radio nobody with less than two years in the industry, meant a lot. Don took me serious and cared about what I had to say way before I said anything worth listening to.
As the years went by, he and I became very close. I could always count on Don for 2 things. 1) Since the day we met, he never forgot my birthday. Never. We may not have spoken in months, but he would always call, and sometimes sing, on my birthday. It was important to him to celebrate my special day and I always appreciated that. 2) He never hung up the phone without telling me he loved me. Often, he would say it (awkwardly) more than once at the end of a phone conversation. He would always do the same thing when you would say goodbye to him in person. You’d hug, he’d say he loved you, hug again…walk away about five steps and he’d say it again and then as you were about 20 yards away, he’d say it again. I always chalked it up to his old age and Italian heritage. Yes, he was a peculiar old man (he collected exotic animals and wore pants with elastic waistbands), but you kind of just went with it because you could tell he meant it. Don cared a lot about the people in his life. He cared enough to take the time to call on a birthday or tell you how much he loved you (more than once). I think of Don from time to time and especially on my birthday.
You don’t have to contribute millions to charities or save orphans from a burning fire to make a difference in this world. You don’t need grand gestures because sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to say “happy birthday” to someone or saying “I love you” at the end of a conversation opposed to just “bye” or hanging up the phone. In tribute to my friend Don, I #Tryharder to do both. I want people to know that I care.
Think about the opportunities for small gestures you can make in a day and how they could potentially change someone’s mood or direction. Think about notes you’ve left people and the acknowledgment you gave that made all the difference. Think about the times people have shown you love and how it made you feel. Remember, the world gives you what you put into it, so holding back does you no good.
Photo credit to Cheney Todd de Groot