My little girl stood for an hour on a San Francisco street corner, as hundreds of people rushed past after work.
She held up a sign to each person who passed, no matter how they dressed or walked or looked.
The sign simply said:
You are awesome. Just the way you are.
Some people hurried by and didn’t see the sign. But the people who did… wow. They instantly burst into a smile.
One moment they looked distracted and stressed while grinding on a mental hamster wheel, and the next moment they were lit up with a firework of happiness.
Unfortunately, too often, we’re given a very different type of message. Insecurities are a strong motivator. We’re told why we need to fix ourselves:
At work, we hear a variation of this: "You will be awesome in your job, once you fix those weaknesses of yours."
In school, many kids are given a similar message: “You will be awesome... when you get better grades / score in the game / fit into the crowd.”
But imagine if our kids heard a different message: "You are awesome. Just the way you are."
This is a different message, a strange and unfamiliar one for many people. We’re so accustomed to hearing that we need to change in order to improve. Yet what if, in fact, the opposite is true?
What if who you are is exactly right?
You don’t have to fix yourself. Just do more of what you’re already doing right.
(Let that sink in. Doesn’t that feel incredible? You can stop struggling to change.)
Optimism is a stronger motivator than insecurity.
Where can you add this optimism in your life? Who needs it most? How can you give it this immediate spark?
If an 11-year-old can change the world on a street corner, maybe you could change a little corner of your world, too.
Your tiniest actions can have a ripple effect. That ripple can grow to make a difference in your office, your family, and your world. Even the biggest movements start with one person.
You don’t have to stand on a busy street, holding a handmade sign like Azalea did. But... maybe you could.
What if you tried it for 10 minutes, during your lunch hour?
Or tape a handwritten sign to your office wall?
Or stick a little note in your child’s lunchbox for them to discover tomorrow?
Optimism doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be authentic.
Give one person the experience of feeling awesome, just the way they are. But here’s the important part — you can’t leave off the second half of the message:
You are awesome… just the way you are.
When you feel good about who you are, you are more likely to help others see the best of themselves.
If you want to create an emotional connection, you don’t need an expensive marketing campaign or fancy engagement program.
Just tell one person that they are amazing. It can be a co-worker, or a client, or a customer, or a family member. It can even be a stranger.
Here are two ways to start your own ripple effect of optimism: