“Have you lived here long?”, I asked the cab driver as we drove through the dark. It was 5AM and I was headed to LAX after a trip to Anaheim.
That simple question set off an amazing discussion.
My driver was a former soldier in Afghanistan’s army. He joined when he was only 15 years old and discovered that he had a gift for shooting. They made him a combat sniper. Apparently, he was very good because the US Military used him to train their own soldiers for several years. This man witnessed the Taliban’s takeover of the country followed by the US Occupation. He trained until he was wounded in battle.
He told me about how much he loved the United States and how it made him angry when people talked about how bad our country is. He talked about living on a piece of bread each day. He talked about his kids getting the opportunity to grow up in the US and how they didn’t have worry about their safety or the government or the police.
He was inspirational. I suggested that he should tell his story as a professional. He seemed intrigued by the idea. As he dropped me off at the airport, he offered to pay for my cab ride. He said that he was grateful for the opportunity to talk to me.
I was shocked because I was thinking the opposite. All I did was listen and encouraged him a bit. He did all of the heavy lifting in the conversation. Yet apparently I had made an impact on this man simply by listening to him.
We have opportunities to impact people on a daily basis and it really doesn’t take much. On the same trip, I sat next to an elderly woman who clearly did not travel a lot. She was seated in the exit row for a 3 hour flight and carefully read all of the instructions. She struggled with her seat belt and I helped her out. She picked up a magazine to read it, but couldn’t see it well so I turned on a light for her. I even helped her find her tray table and put the tray table back when it got stuck. She never said much when I helped, just a quiet “thank you”, but her smile told me that it meant a lot to her.
Later in the flight, she offered me some Skittles from her purse, which I had helped her retrieve from the overhead bin. As we landed, I asked her if she was home. She said that she was on a trip to go to a funeral.
We are all busy, but every once in a while, it is important to be on the lookout for opportunities to make an impact on someone. You will find that it makes an even bigger impact on you.