There is a story that is going around the internet, it may have been true at one time, but now it has become one of those stories that is sent out in emails and happened to someone that somebody knows. I’m not going to pretend that this happened to me, or that my mentor passed this story down to me in a moment of wisdom but the story is still worth sharing:

“During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”
I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”

I hope there is a professor somewhere that would think this is important enough to be a question on a test but even if it is something that someone just made up one day, it is still worth learning from.
How you treat the people that you meet in your life says a lot about who you are. Not just the people who you think may be useful to you, or society may deem to be ‘important’ but everybody. Everybody.
Be friendly, respectful and kind. It will make your day better. It will make your life better. We may have hectic, crazy lives but smiling at someone when you see them takes no extra time, and you never know the effect it may have.
Sometimes we are all so busy trying to be “successful” that we forget what successful really is. Who we are should be measured by how we treat others, not by how much money is in our bank account.
I hear a lot about ‘earning respect’ but I think that respect isn’t about the actions of others, it’s about our own actions. People deserve respect purely because they are people, nothing needs to be earned.
Today make sure you share a smile with a stranger, a kind comment with someone you may encounter, and a short conversation with someone who you meet. Learn someone’s name – you will be finish the day richer than when you started.

(This article was first published in The Daily Advertiser on March 27th 2012 in Aileen’s column “That’s what she said”)

@Aileen Bennett
Photo Credit(c) Can Stock Photo