During my years with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, I was asked to speak on many occasions. That included almost everything from civic clubs, education and other professional organizations, area chambers of commerce and Middle Tennessee State University.
I recall one morning when I spoke to a business and marketing class at MTSU. It was raining cats and dogs that morning.
It is my custom when doing public speaking to begin my comments with a positive thought and to end my remarks with some positive words that will hopefully stick with the audience even if they forget everything else that was said; thinking that they may forget statistics, growth trends, unemployment numbers and such; but at least remember something said early in the program and during the conclusion.
I quickly moved to the podium when introduced and remarked, “Good morning. Are you enjoying this beautiful sunshine?” Their faces reflected total disbelief in what was just said and probably the credibility of the speaker.
I went on to explain that the sun always shines and that it is a matter of attitude or altitude whether a person can see the sunshine or not. I gave an example. Years earlier, I was flying from Nashville to Washington on a day similar to the one we were experiencing that morning; downpour of rain with no prospect of ending soon.
I explained that after the big silver bird left the ground and burst through the clouds, the most brilliant sunshine filled the aircraft.
It was a spiritual moment for me; being reminded that the sun was in the sky all the time, and that I just couldn’t see it through the dark clouds and rain at low-level. I then gave my presentation to the students and concluded by saying, “Remember, what you see is what you will get. Look for the sunshine, because it is always nearby. Look for good and you’ll find good. Also, ask what is good about every situation, because there is a seed of opportunity even then.”
About two weeks later, I received a letter from one of the students who was in the audience that day. She wrote, “You don’t know me and probably will never see me again. But, your words about the sunshine caused me to think and consider the situation I have been going through. You see, my family and I are in a difficult time, emotionally and financially. For some reason, those words gave me inspiration. Let me thank you.”
Wow. I read the letter again, slowly… and then again, trying to imagine what the young lady must be experiencing. Humbled by her words, tears began streaming down my face. At that moment, I was blessed beyond anything I could have said to encourage her.
I will never know her name or the circumstances that she was experiencing at the time. But, it caused me to think about the positive influence that all of us should consider for others. Starting with my own attitude, words here and there, tone of voice, a compliment, encouragement, constructive advice, someone may just need a small spark to light a fire to bring renewed hope.
While recalling that story, I’m reminded of a question. How much responsibility does each of us have for others as we go through life?