We learn at an early age, when we’re infants, in fact, that we have impact on others. We do the only thing we know, we cry…for food or for attention.
Later, as we grow up and possibly become a bit more altruistic, we may even sacrifice things, our selves, in various ways, for someone else. Or, we may want to make loud, purposeful impact with our appearance and conversation in the workplace, say, or at other events where we interact intentionally with others.
The IMPACT I’m particularly referring to, however, is the much more subtle sort. The kind of impact we have when we are just going about our regular old routines. Taking the garbage down to the curb, interacting with a client’s assistant, grocery shopping.
I’m here today to remind you of the enormous impact we have even in the simplest aspects of our lives.
When I began my business in balloon entertainment, I was performing weekly at a restaurant.
Creating fun ballooney art for the restaurant’s ‘Kid’s Night’. I would wear my gear and approach tables with families, children, introduce myself, ask permission, then create something fun.
‘Hi I’m Holly, the balloon artist here on Thursdays. Would you like me to create some balloon art for your children?” Patter would follow. Perhaps a silly joke exchange.
Q Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 789!
Q Why did the chicken cross the park? To get to the other slide!
Q What did 0 say to 8? Nice belt!
I would notice when new families were seated, or who still was interested, or needed, a balloon. Sometimes it wasn’t only the young that were interested in a balloon, but the young at heart.
On this particular evening, the restaurant was busy with the flurry of families dining. As I entertained at a table, I noticed as a woman and an older boy were seated. Maybe he was 10 or 11. That iffy age…not quite a little boy, therefore possibly no longer interested in balloons. Typically, I don’t approach the tables with older kids, I’ll wait for them to call to me. And in this case, as I entertained at a table, the woman with the older boy caught my attention and indicated she would like me to visit.
Happily, I introduced myself and began chatting away with the boy. Just as I have hundreds of times before. The mom mentioned in a general sort of way, “Billy’s* been having a hard time at school. It hasn’t been easy lately.” I then recounted: “when I was a youngster I was very chatty. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for my report cards to have comments like: Holly is an excellent student but she’s too social in class and talks too much. Then I’d get punished, separated from my pals and sent to the back of the room. However, I told Billy, I think I exasperated my teachers because I’d always make new friends in the back, too. Then, as an adult I realized Never underestimate the supposed weaknesses of youth, they can become our greatest attributes later in life!
I finished up with Billy and moved along to the next table.
As the evening slowed down and families began leaving, I noticed Billy and his mom get up to leave. As she passed me, she said “Thank you” and pressed this into my hand. At first, I thought it was a folded bill since I often do get tips when I perform at a restaurant. After they left, I pulled it out of my pocket and read it. (sic)“Thank you very much for complimenting my son–you have no idea how much that means to him and how happy that makes him! Thank you!”
At that time of my life, when I was being pulled in multiple directions, mother of a young child, that Purple Note was a big epiphany. It reminded me even I, as a silly balloon lady, have impact.
You all have enormous impact and I think you actually have the greatest impact of all when you haven’t rehearsed or planned anything, but rather when you least expect it and probably don’t even realize it.
I’m here to remind you of the enormous impact you have in even the simplest aspects of your lives.
When you least expect it, your words and actions matter a very great deal.
*Billy is not the real name of the child.