I remember watching her move through the security checkpoint in Boston.
She appeared to be in her early-thirties. She was thin with dark hair and a simple yet fashionable look. She was one of the very few chosen to have her bags searched at the security checkpoint. I watched as the 50-year-old TSA security worker pulled her aside and slung her bag up on the counter. He unzipped it and began rifling through everything. He asked the necessary but ridiculous questions about whether someone else had packed her bag. Her reactions were so authentic and graceful.
Throughout the entire search, she didn’t show one moment of frustration, one ounce of annoyance. She spoke politely, laughed at her own responses, and asked the guard questions about his day. When the search was finished, she took the disheveled bag and patiently reorganized its contents. One by one, people passed by her as she gathered her things. Just a few minutes later, she came running down the terminal hallway with her bag over her shoulder and a few remaining loose items draped in her arms. As she passed me, she yelled, “This isn’t the easiest thing to do in heels” in the same gracious spirit she exuded at checkpoint.
“I bet not,” I yelled back. “But, you’re doing it well!”
She had obviously known she was running late when they searched her bag, so why didn’t she seem anxious? Why wasn’t she annoyed that out of all the people in those security lines, she was the one selected? Why wasn’t she complaining about the way the man disrupted her perfectly organized bag? And, finally, with a long hallway to run in high heel shoes, why was she doing it with such playful energy and joy?
Whether or not she knew it, she was faithing—she was putting love and gratitude into action, and it made an impact on me. The gracious and appreciative manner in which she handled each obstacle between herself and the gate was a lesson and model for us all. She was traveling gracefully through life.
After she passed me I found myself smiling, slowing down and feeling thankful for all the ripples around me. The mood along her path was changed. And just by watching her, my mood was changed. The ripple effect was happening.
I think about the obstacles, delays and cancellations that show up along our path every day in life and business. I wonder how the cultures or the spaces we move in and out of could be changed by the ripples we create?
True greatness isn’t just about doing excellent things, but about creating excellent ripples. What kind of ripples will you create today?
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim, ReMember, and the newly released book Thermostat Cultures, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at JasonVBarger.com
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