Monday, March 8, 2010


I backed into the parking space at the library, as is my usual habit. (I find it much easier and safer to back into a parking space than to back out). As I gathered my things to bring in, I noticed a rather unusual sight.

Dressed in a suit was a thirty-something young man, picking up trash outside the front entrance. It’s not that he was picking up a few pieces, he was picking up a lot. Eventually he picked up what looked to be the source of most of the flying trash: one of those plastic grocery store bags that had apparently been dropped near the entrance and then had emptied half its contents as the wind whipped it around.

In the couple of minutes that he spent gathering up the trash, there were about a half dozen people who passed him on their way into the library. No one helped. In fact, only one seemed to really notice him and what he was doing, but offered no help.

He finished his task, dropped the bag in the trash can, and walked into the library.

I saw him again, inside the library, and recognized who he was. He was a vice president of a locally-headquartered international company with scores of millions in annual sales. He was, as he always was, impeccably dressed. Tailor-made suit, starched white shirt, silk tie, highly-polished shoes. He was GQ-style from head to toe.

Yet he was outside a public library picking up trash a few minutes earlier.

I walked up to him, told him what I saw and asked him why he did it.

His answer was simply, “Because it had to be done.”

And I realized that one of the reasons why he was a highly successful individual was because he practiced, as just about every other highly successful individual does, one of the keys to enjoying a high quality of life. He does the things that have to be done. It didn’t matter to him that other people did not do it, or that the library had a maintenance person whose job included such a task, he was there at the time it needed to be done, was able to do it, and so he did.

As you go through this week, think about the opportunities to contribute to your, and others, quality of life. When the opportunity presents itself, and it will, take advantage of it.

Simply, because it has to be done.

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