I was listening to a podcast the other day, TED Radio Hour. The topic was Disruptive Leadership, but the one talk that stood out for me was a discussion by Drew Dudley entitled “Have You Changed Someone’s Life Without Realizing It?”
In this talk, Mr. Dudley relates a story of how HE changed someone’s life. It is a GREAT story. A lollipop figures into the story ( you can google ‘lollipop moment’ and get to the same talk).
This got me thinking about my own “lollipop moments”. In the 6th grade, I was having difficulty seeing the blackboard at school. My parents took me to the eye doctor and had me fitted with glasses. Now, at Bentley School in Manchester, CT, there were only two male teachers. One of these teachers was my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Ewald. When I went to school my first day with glasses, he stopped me in the playground, looked down at me and said, “Richard, you look handsome in those glasses”.
Friends, I’ve seen pictures of myself in 6th grade, and let me tell you, I looked DORKY in those glasses…. But to this day, I can see him. towering over me, almost as tall as the basketball pole behind him. I’ve rarely considered contact lenses, and never thought seriously about laser eye surgery. Five decades out of 6th grade, I still wear those glasses.
Even in my adult life, I can remember an executive at a company I worked for back in the 80’s telling me “You’d make a great salesperson!” I followed his advice, though I had always been an engineer, and never felt that sales was for me.
On the giving end of ‘lollipop moments, my daughter, on more than one occasion, has said, “You know, Dad. I always remember you telling me ______” and the ‘fill in the blank’ is something wise and thoughtful that I have no recollection of ever saying to her.
Keep in mind this cuts both ways. A careless derogatory comment has as long a life as a quick compliment. So, be nice. You never know when what you say will be that ‘lollipop moment’ for someone else.