My parents started a tradition many years ago where they gave each employee a hundred dollars at the CCB Christmas party. This gift was the way my parents wanted to show value and appreciation to the team. Employees could use the money to buy themselves a special gift or use it towards others. I know a hundred dollars doesn’t stretch as it once did.
Last year I was told by an employee how he had been giving the hundred dollars away each year to someone who really needed some encouragement. The employee said the money was not something he needed but knew others could. This got me thinking how I really could make an impact in someone’s life by giving them the hundred dollars.
I kept the hundred dollars in my business bag waiting for the right opportunity. My sixteen-year-old nephew was gifted a truck by his uncle in Florida. My wife suggested I do a road trip with my nephew to get the truck from Florida to Wisconsin. We were driving through Kentucky when we saw my nephew’s favorite resultant, The Waffle House, so we stopped for lunch.
We walked in and were greeted by an extremely friendly staff member. We sat down and he immediately walked over to see if he could get us something to drink. There were other people eating and he was talking to everyone with a positive vibe. He checked on us after our meal to be sure we were having a great experience. I asked him “How long have you been working here?” He smiled and said “Only a week. I moved up here with my family from Tennessee.” This got my nephew and I to perk up because my nephew grew up in Tennessee for most of his life. I told the gentlemen working how much I appreciate his positive attitude. He thanked me and said that things have been tough for his family. They were living in a motel because the house they wanted to buy did not work out. He said “Things are really hard right now but I’m grateful to have a job!” I knew it was time to share the hundred dollars that I had been carrying in my bag for several months.
I got the money and walked up to him. I said this to him “Keep having a positive attitude and life will work out. I’ve been waiting for the right person to give this hundred dollars to and you are the best person I could share it with. He got teared up and said “Oh man! Thank you so much!” I shook his hand and walked out. My nephew was stunned and said “Wow! That was really cool!” I told him “Joseph, it’s great to make money but it’s even better when you can share it with others.” We were about to get to the truck when I heard a woman’s voice “Sir! Sir!” I turned around and a lady with bright colored hair, tattoos, and piercings was walking towards me. She said “Sir! I just saw what you did for that man and I want to say how cool that was! He is crying because of your kindness. Can I give you a hug?” She gave me a quick embrace and said “I have done that for others too and I think it’s so great!” I thanked her for taking time to come out and encourage me with her words. She walked back to the Waffle House when the guy I gave the hundred dollars came out walking by her. He said “Sir! I am so thankful for what you did for me! I can’t tell you how much it means to me!” I smiled and told him that everything happens for a reason. We stopped at this restaurant, and I think it was meant to encourage you. Don’t give up on God because God has not given up on you!” We gave each other a hug and walked away.
I never saw him again, but I shared this story at our Christmas Party last Thursday. The employee who inspired me came up and gave me a big hug. I am so thankful to be learning how to be a better person and leader from my staff. Life is short and we can make an impact if we keep our hearts wide open. I hope you get the opportunity this Christmas to bless someone else.