When’s the last time you did a good thing?
Most of us consider ourselves ‘good people’. What does that mean? If the standard is simply not doing something morally evil - like tripping your neighbor lady as she walks by with her hands full of groceries - we’ve set our standards pretty low.
Maybe your standards are a little higher - you carried her groceries in for her!
Sorry. . . I’m still not impressed.
Carry in the groceries. But know that that’s not good. That’s the bare minimum.
Now be honest with yourself. You be honest with yourself, and I’ll be honest with myself.
How often are we doing just the bare minimum?
But. . .
I helped my kid with his homework!
I did the laundry for my whole family!
I let the guy in line go in front of me!
I helped my coworker clean the snow off her car!
I said a prayer for my sick grandma!
Gut check: I’m usually doing the bare minimum.
This morning, I read about a friend of mine who did something really good.
His name is Pete and he posted this on all the social medias:
“Since our son (redacted for the protection of the innocent) was born last November we’ve come up with a few sing along songs for him. It started as one line tunes to keep him calm, dance around the house, and to simply love on our little guy. His love for these songs has brought us so much joy these past twelve months! One “what if" idea has led to another, and welp… here is a full album with those songs. It’s definitely not professional...it may not even be amateur! The vocals are only on key every other note and the guitar is pretty sloppy too. We just thought it’d be fun to share a taste of our family life with you and document our first year with him. It costs a little money because we apparently had to charge something instead of nothing to get it on iTunes...maybe a good white elephant gift? Any proceeds will go towards (redacted for the protection of the innocent)’s college fund! Disclaimer: This is a joke...but it is also not a joke. We hope you enjoy it! Cheers all.”
Pete did a good thing. That’s well beyond the bare minimum.
Why do I bring this up?
Truth is, everyone’s got their thing.
Their own fears.
Their own big bad wolf.
Their own drama.
Likely, your thing is tied up with someone else’s thing. It’s a worry for someone or about someone. They might know it, they might not. But it’s there, and it’s your thing.
We’ve all got our thing. And, when it comes to dealing with our things, there are four kinds of people:
Which group do you belong to?
Most of us hope we are in Group D and fear we are in Group B.
None of us are in Group A - because we care gosh darnit! And of course none of us can be lumped in with that deplorable Group C. Ugh. Those people are the worst. We’d never be like one of them!
But it’s group C you really have to watch out for. Group C is the dangerous one. See, Group C masquerades as so many different excuses. . .
I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings :(
I don’t want to offend someone :(
I don’t want anyone to make fun of me :(
I don’t want anyone to reject me :(
I’ve tried before and failed :(
Guess what. . those are the battle cries of someone in Group C. You failed in the past, or you’re scared you’ll fail if you try something, or you’re afraid you’ll offend someone, or you’re afraid someone will think you’re stupid. And all that fear puts you in Group C.
Don’t worry. We’ve all been there.
Want to get into Group D? Want to do something good?
Step 1: Believe you can make a difference.
Everyone has different narratives in their head.
You aren’t pretty enough.
You aren’t smart enough.
You aren’t experienced enough.
You aren’t clever enough.
You’re too old.
You’re too young.
You’re too out of touch.
But all those narratives can be summed up into one: You’re not good enough.
If you want to do something good, you’re going to have to start telling yourself you’re good enough.
Problem is, you won’t believe yourself.
So you’re going to have to do it again and again and again. And eventually, you’re going to do something great!
. . . and then you’ll start telling yourself you aren’t good enough again.
And you’re going to have to tell yourself - over and over again - that you’re good enough.
Call it self-help self-talk psycho babble mumbo jumbo. Call it whatever the heck you want. I don’t care.
Step one is to start telling yourself you can, never stop telling yourself you can, and if you do that you just might convince yourself you can do something good.
Step 2: Don’t focus on things that are, focus on things as they can be.
Things aren’t good as they are. That’s why you want them to change.
But how will they ever change if you only ever focus on how they are? That sentence is confusing. Maybe an analogy will help.
If you’re stuck in the mud, you can either focus on the mud, or you can look for something to get you out of it. Those are really you’re only too options. You’ll never get out if you don’t look for something to get you out.
So you’re kid is messed up, or your marriage is on the rocks, or you lost your job, or your new business went under. The solution is rarely hiding in the problem.
Focus on things as they can be, then backtrack to where you are now.
The path forward will reveal itself in the process.
Step 3: Do something only you can do, and make sure it makes a big difference.
Always operate out of your sweet spot.
No one else could make a children’s album about Pete’s family life. Only he can do that. And if you don’t think writing music for your son, singing it to him every day, and recording that music for him to listen to when you’re old and wrinkly and can’t hold a guitar anymore, then you don’t know what really matters.
Someday, I believe Pete’s son might be feeling a little unloved, or a little lonely, or a little rejected, and I believe he’s going to play an album that his Dad recorded before he knew which way was up, and I think it’s going to make him feel better. And I think that really matters.
Step 4: Do it for yourself, not someone else.
If Pete tried to make an album for the world, he would have failed. Crashed and burned. He wrote an album for himself and his family and that makes all the difference.
Don’t worry about whether or not you can sell it. Don’t worry about whether or not it will make a difference to someone else. Don’t worry about what other people will think.
I created a prayer journal that’s sold hundred of copies. But I made it because I wanted it. I could have never sold a single copy, and that would have been fine. I still would have used it myself everyday for the rest of my life.
Rebecca and I created artwork for our son’s bedroom wall. We don’t care if anyone else wants it. We did it for ourselves and our son. If someone else wants one, great! If no-one else wants one, that’s great too. Because we didn’t do it for anyone else.
Maybe you have to say something to someone you love but you’re afraid of how they will react. Don’t say it for them. Say it for yourself. If it helps them, great. If they ignore you or get mad at you, forget it. You’ve said what you needed to say.
And that’s a good thing.
. . .
Everyone wants to be a good person. Good people do good things.
I think the world needs more good people doing good things.
Not profitable things. Not amazing things. Not magnificent things.
Things like a loving Dad making his one year old son an album. Not so people will buy it. Not so he will win a Grammy.
Just so his son will always know how loved he is.
And what good music sounds like.
My friend - go make some music in your life.
God bless. Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts.
My name is Dominick Albano and I'm an author, speaker, and consultant.