Leading SA in my own way

As I drove to work this morning, I was listening to my favourite radio station. A LeadSA advertisement was playing wherein the story was told of how a man picked up a purse that had just been dropped by a passing woman. He ran after her and when he caught up with her, he gave her back her purse. Shocked, she thanked him and then he went on his way.

LeadSA is an initiative that aims to inspire communities towards positive social change. It’s always easy to complain about everything that is wrong with the world, but how many of us take it personally and try to become the change we wish to see?

This ad resonated within me, and inspired me to spend one day focusing on being kind, courteous and helpful to everyone I meet. I approached it as a sort of experiment in social change, and was curious to see what, if any difference I could make.

So on the decided day, I drove into my work parking lot and, having stepped out the car, I took a deep breath, stepped outside my comfort zone, and greeted the first person I saw: an employee waiting outside an unopened shop, yawning from having woken up so early. This lady lit up in response, smiling and waving back. I walked on.

I entered the building and then greeted the security guard. For the first time, I went further to ask him how he was doing, and I actually stopped walking, giving him time to answer properly. He smiled meekly, sighed and replied that he wasn’t doing that well. He explained that he was worried about his daughter, who was undergoing a serious operation that day. As I listened to his story, I felt a surge of compassion for this man. I see him every day, but for the first time I felt connected to him, and realised that this man, just like everyone else, has problems of his own. I wished him well and walked to my place of work.

I entered the office with an upbeat attitude, was friendly and helpful towards my co-workers, and the results were amazing. I realised that although it took a little more effort to be nicer than usual to everyone (including the grumpies), it paid off. Everyone seemed happier than usual. I believe my actions inspired them to be nicer to one another as well.

I made a point to ask the security guard about his daughter as I headed out the building at day end, and with a big smile he informed me she was doing well.

As I sat in traffic, I was patient and forgiving, curbing the road rage I usually feel. I gave way to people crossing the road and was pleasantly surprised as many lifted a hand in thanks.

I arrived home that day feeling invigorated and fulfilled because at the end of the day, being kind and thoughtful truly does pay off. I might not have been able to fix the problem my colleagues had to deal with that day, but I had the privilege of making them smile. And not only did I make them smile, they made me smile in return. Sometimes a smile truly is all you need to get through a tough day.

To read more about the LeadSA initiative, visit http://www.leadsa.co.za.

[box] Written By Talita Harmse[/box]

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