If the Bradford pear trees in my neighborhood could speak and only say one word, it would be ‘Spring!’. Their white flowers are like trumpets, announcing the closing of the winter and the arrival of spring.
Those of us on Daylight Savings Time have moved our clocks forward and the turning of the calendar from 2014 to 2015 is in the distant past. Did you make any resolutions for the year? If you are like most people, they’re long forgotten. I gave up on that practice a few years ago and adopted another method that is simple and actually sticks – a single word.
My friend Alan Hoffler of Millswyck Communications introduced me to the book, ‘One Word Will Change your Life’. I used it last year and decided once again to pick a single word to focus on for the entire year in both my business and personal life. This year’s word for me, is ‘Reach’.
It’s both a noun and a verb. It’s a word that propels me to take action. It might be as simple as extending a hand to say hello to a stranger. Helping a neighbor. Picking up a piece of litter. Or stretching myself to learn and master something new.
At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, it is at the core of what we do every day. We reach out to people on behalf of others. We send them a gift of our cookies and brownies, sharing different messages depending on what the sender has to say. Sometimes it is a thank you, sometimes to extend sympathy, and sometimes just to say hello.
I was delivering some cookies to Crossroads Infiniti, one of our local customers, several weeks back and had the opportunity to strike up a conversation with one of their customers in the waiting room. This Mom, with toddler in tow, was waiting for her car to be serviced.
She shared the story of her husband, a Marine, and his deployment on an aircraft carrier. She did not have or share a lot of detail, but enough to know that he was in harm’s way in a part of the world more dangerous that I’ll probably ever know. He loved our cookies and enjoyed getting them any time he visited the dealership’s service department.
I immediately saw this as an opportunity to extend our reach. I asked for his address and shared my intent with Paul the General Manager. He agreed that sending this Marine cookies was the right thing to do. I wrote him a letter, describing my conversation with his wife, included it with a fresh batch of cookies, and packed everything up for shipping.
It just so happened this was the day of the biggest snowfall we had this winter. Nothing compared to what folks in the Northeast experienced, but enough to shut down our town for the day. But the cookies were made and we needed for them to reach their destination.
I piled the few orders we had on a sled and started the trek to the Post Office. It’s only about a mile or so from the bakery. While I might have been able to drive, it felt like the right way to send off these orders. I stopped along the way to strike up a conversation with a veteran wearing his Vietnam War hat and shoveling snow. I listened to some of his stories. He immediately understood my mission, and I went on my way.
The Post Office gladly accepted our orders and sent them off to their respective destinations. About three weeks later, I received a wonderful email from the Marine, thanking me for the cookies. They had reached their destination, but more importantly, we were able to reach out and extend our thanks with a little taste of home to someone half way around the world serving our country.
In the past weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to reach out to employees of a security company and wish them a Happy Anniversary, to clients of a financial planner to say Happy Birthday, and to residents of apartment communities to thank them for calling their community ‘Home’.
I keep a copy of my word posted above my desk as a reminder to look for opportunities to practice, every day. It’s more than a ‘To-Do’ list or a long forgotten New Year’s resolution – it’s a reminder to reach out and focus on mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth. If you’ve never picked a word and would like to give it a try, it’s not too late. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.
For Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, it’s about remembering that every single time we send something out the door, we are reaching out to someone, somewhere with a message and a gift that will hopefully bring them a brief moment of happiness. And that’s a goal worthy of a little extra reach.