As much as material things have their place in our lives, it is the interactions with people who make our lives feel most full, and people who teach us the most. It is important to live in the moment and enjoy those around us in our immediate presence. It is important to be able to reflect upon those who have paved our path and guided us to new ones. We fail to see all of these people as we bounce from one endeavor to the next. Just because something or someone is important doesn’t mean we always acknowledge it/them.
Often, we think of these people as our elders or those who have been through similar circumstances or walked along similar trails. The people we look up to for guidance, love and mentorship help us to write a special part of our story. However, there are many people who show us things like humility, passion, kindness and respect, who we are not readily aware of. These people help write our stories too, but we plagiarize them.
Lately, I have been thinking about intangibles and where we learn them from, as well as where we don’t. What do things like passion and kindness really look like?
When we travel as a team, someone is always there to drive us to and from the airport, helping us pack our fully loaded suitcases under the bus. Someone flies the airplane, someone serves us food and someone makes sure our seat belts are buckled and tray tables are up (even if we are trying to do our homework). Someone checks all of us into the hotel, gets our room keys, serves our meals, cleans our rooms and replaces our wet towels, ensuring that our stay is pleasant. This list is not fully representative. You may think, “Of course, it is important to thank these people, but this is their job” – they are paid to do these things. You’re right. They are paid to do many of these tasks. But they aren’t paid to give a warm and friendly smile when we come back to our freshly cleaned hotel rooms, which we had previously left a mess. They aren’t paid to wear a Stanford baseball cap, and cheer for us when we leave food and garbage on the bus. They aren’t paid to be unreciprocated in kindness. They aren’t paid to be disregarded.
Throughout my journey in a competitive sport, I have learned a lot about intangibles from the people that make sure we get to games on time, have good food to eat, have a comfortable place to recover and support us endlessly in the crowd. Kindness is smiling and saying “good morning” when your morning shift isn’t great. Passion is the visible love you show when you serve a great meal, and someone complains that they don’t like it.
The moral of the story is simply this: be thankful, learn from as many as you can and think about who your actions affect and whose actions affect your own. Thank one of these people, ask them how their day is, tell them you appreciate them. There are many things in life that should take more of our time. Time that we are often too impatient to spend.
Contact Mikaela Brewer at mbrewer8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.