- Michael Thompson
“Is that a mouse?”
In an instant, the normally well-behaved children went bananas. Some jumped on their desks. Others yelled at the top of their lungs. Others were too scared to do anything at all.
Quick on her feet, the teacher set up a plan to catch the mouse. But between all the commotion and the mouse’s uncanny ability to move quickly and quietly, no matter how hard she tried, she came up empty-handed.
Unsure what to do, the teacher took a second to gather her thoughts, and to the surprise of the other children, she then enlisted the help of a quiet little boy named Stevie Morris to lend her a hand.
“What’s Stevie going to do?” one of the boys yelled, “He’s blind! He can’t see me let alone a fast little mouse!”
But the teacher paid no mind to the boy and doubled-down on the one quality Little Stevie possessed that many of his young classmates didn’t — a tremendous set of ears.
Within seconds, once the class finally obeyed the teacher’s soft hush, Little Stevie identified where the mouse was hiding and for the first time in his life, he learned first-hand what it felt like to be the classroom hero.
Decades later, while being interviewed, Little Stevie said that day marked the first time someone had shown appreciation for what he had instead of focusing on what he didn’t. He then went on to give a nod to his teacher for kick-starting his life. From that day forward, Little Stevie went on the offensive and threw all his energy into developing the gifts he was given instead of spending his days feeling sorry for himself.
Years later, this decision would pay off as that quiet little boy became one of the most influential musicians the world has ever known.
If the name Stevie Morris doesn’t ring a bell, maybe you’ll recognize his stage name — Stevie Wonder.
I love that story. It’s one of my favorites. I especially love Stevie’s teacher. She noticed him. She lifted him to higher ground. Instead of opting for the obvious, she leaned into the overlooked and created a space that allowed him to walk comfortably into the spotlight. As a result, despite being blind, Little Stevie was able to see. Because she took the time to first see him.
How often do you do that? Really notice people? Actually take the time to look for the good in the people in front of you? Doing what you can to bring those qualities out into the world so other people can see them too?
It sounds so simple — but that’s how you impact someone. That’s how you leave a lasting impression on someone’s life. You look where others aren’t. You see something small — or even invisible to the untrained eye — and you make the person in front of you feel bigger than they did before.
I screwed up the first impression with a man whose work I really admire. I wasn’t ready to meet with him. I knew it. He knew it. I wasted his time. I thought for sure I’d never hear from him again.
A few months later, he stumbled upon my secret blog. He left a comment for me to keep at it. A few months later, he did it again. Except for this time, he told me that what I wrote was great.
He mentioned me in a few of his videos after I showed up a little better when we met for round two. He said I was talented. A good thinker. He told me I’m a good person to spend an afternoon with.
It’s hard to explain when someone who doesn’t have to do something, does something. But you feel it a lot.
I was 38 years old at the time. A grown man. I’d just fallen in love with writing but I didn’t know where to take it. I don’t know what I’d be doing today if he’d done what a lot of people do and move on after someone does something wrong.
Sticking with me helped clear my vision.
His simple actions gave me confidence.
His simple words made me feel bigger than I’d felt before.
Your words hold tremendous power.
But you don’t need to be in a position of power to make yours count.
Why not leave a comment on an article for someone with potential telling them to keep at it? Why not send a message to someone you can see trying but struggling? Why not get on a call with someone you noticed something in?
We’re talking about a minimal-time investment. Two-minutes here. Thirty-minutes there. You may find that the words you say and the actions you display impact them like Little Stevie’s teacher did for him or like that man did for me.
That’s the beauty of words. That’s their power. You never know where they may take someone. Two minutes of your time. A thoughtful comment. A much-needed message.
Maybe they don’t result in much. But maybe they do.
Maybe they even serve as the tipping point for someone to go all-in.
Maybe when asked about the people that built them up, they think of you and say your name.