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Karma Cycle (#116)

Amanda Needham was pissed and she wanted it to be known.

A thief had stone her bike from outside her house in Brooklyn, leaving behind only a tire and the lock. Her bike was her only transportation to work.

In her anger, Amanda created an 8-x-3-foot cardboard sign and hung it outside her house. It read:

“To the person who stole my bicycle, I hope you need it more than I do. It was $200 used and I need it to get to work. I can’t afford another one. Next time steal a hipster’s Peugeot. Or not steal. PS Bring it back.”

Three days later, two young men rang her doorbell. With them was a blue mountain bike sized for a teenager. One of them, Michael, had his bike stolen as well and was moved by her sign. Since he was not using this bike anymore, he offered it to her for free. Even though it was too small for her, she graciously accepted because she saw that they really wanted to help.

A few days after that, her bell rang again and it was a woman at the door. She asked Amanda if there was any way she could help or anything she could do for her.  Amanda explained that she had recently signed up for Citi Bike (bike share) so she now had transportation, but they shared a laugh about the Peugeot comment and hugged before saying goodbye.

At this point, Amanda’s husband wanted her to take down the sign, but to Amanda, it was no longer about the bike.

Soon, her buzzer rang again. This time she was greeted by a man who explained that he was an art dealer and had heard of her situation from an Instagram conversation about it. He liked her sign and offered to buy it for $200 dollars. She accepted.

Touched by all the gestures, Amanda took the bike that Michael had given her to a local bike shop to get serviced so she could donate it to someone in need. In exchange for doing the repair work, Amanda got the bike shop set up on Instagram and Twitter so they could share the story.

The one thing that Amanda wanted most from this whole experience was acknowledgement. She wanted people to recognize, reach out and support each other, something she felt humanity is lacking these days.

Not only was she heard, her story and message really inspired the best in others. Here are a few lessons we can all learn from Amanda’s story:

  • She did not play the victim. Instead, she used her energy proactively and creatively to do something about the situation.
  • As cliché as it may be, she brought to light how there is always an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons.
  • Ingenuity is a good outlet for anger, especially when your back is against the wall.
    This is the same formula Kyle McDonald used to eventually trade his red paperclip for a free house, fundamentally changing his life along the way.

You can read the full story about #KarmaCycle in Amanda’s own words.

In the meantime … let’s remember to acknowledge each other, even if it’s just to provide an encouraging word, give a hug or listen when someone is going through a rough time. At the very least, it’s good karma.

Quote of The Week

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

Scott Adams

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With Gratitude (#114)

A few years back, my family and I started implementing a practice that was recommended to me by a mentor of mine, Warren Rustand. His advice was, after your stay at a hotel had come to an end, leave a handwritten note thanking the person who cleaned your room along with a monetary tip.

There are many reasons why this is a good thing to do, but four in particular are:

  1. It’s an act of gratitude. Practicing gratitude has numerous benefits for our health and state of mind.
  2. It shows respect, dignity and appreciation for someone’s hard work; work that often goes unnoticed.
  3. The tip is often insignificant to you, but meaningful to them.

We travel a lot and when we stay at a hotel, my kids typically take turns writing the notes. But it is my youngest who has really come to enjoy it. Even though he’s only nine, he asks to write the note as we’re packing up to leave.

A few weeks back, we were on a ski vacation. We had a lot of gear and rushed out of our room each morning to hit the slopes. To say we left a mess would be an understatement. Yet, when we returned each afternoon, the room was cleaned very well and all our belongings were neatly organized. It must have taken the housekeeping person well over an hour each day to get it that way.

When we went to check out, my son asked to write the thank you note and I pulled $40 out of my wallet to leave as a tip. My wife, Rachel, looked at me and said, “We should leave more. She worked really hard.” As usual, she was right and so we did.

At almost the same time, I received a note from a friend via a What’s App group. He too was inspired by Warren’s advice and had begun leaving a tip with a thank you note after his hotel stays. He shared that after a recent stay at an Airbnb in Guatemala, he’d left a $15 tip each day to the person who had cooked and cleaned for them. To his surprise, he received a note from the owner a few days later that read:

“I want to thank you so much for being so generous with Sandra’s tips. She told me today she was able to take her child to the dentist and to de-parasite her other child from amoebas. It really made a difference, thanks for your generosity.”

In our haste, we often neglect to show appreciation for the little things or take the time to thank and acknowledge those who have served us. And the reality is, these individuals are likely far less fortunate.

We’re all guilty of focusing on our first-world problems and overlooking the challenges/circumstances of others.

When we take the time to think about and recognize those who have served us in some way, with nothing to gain from doing so, it has a positive impact that is greater than we can imagine.  I also believe it’s simply good karma.

As you head into your weekend, I encourage you to take the time to sincerely thank someone who’s done something to serve you and see if you can improve their life in some small way. It’ll very likely make a difference to them and, as a bonus, it’ll also likely make you feel good about yourself.

A relatively small gesture can make a real difference in the life of another person.

Quote of the Week

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

William Arthur Ward

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