‘If there were one word that could act as a standard of conduct for one’s entire life, perhaps it would be thoughtfulness’. Confucius
Jane and I love to cycle together exploring the countryside. During this week, we noticed that Jane’s bike had developed a kind of cranking sound, which despite lashings of oil, on various moving parts, we couldn’t stop.
Whilst out on a ride we decided to call at the local bike shop for some more oil! We couldn’t think of any other solution. On arriving at the shop, Roger came out and we asked for a can of ‘special’ oil. He smiled and asked why? When we explained he started examining the bike and made adjustments followed by a test cycle! His thoughtfulness to the bike and us was amazing. When asked how much we owed him for his time he replied with a beam, “That’s ok, all part of the service — you just owe me for the oil.”
We came away convinced that we had found a brilliant bike shop, where we would take our bikes when they needed servicing. Roger had made our day and we glowed with thankfulness.
This unexpected incident made me reflect on the value of thoughtfulness and its role in creating and maintaining good relationships. Thoughtfulness has two distinct meanings: the first is about being absorbed in your own thoughts; the second is about showing consideration for the needs of other people.
Roger was putting the second meaning into practice, in the way he related to us as customers, making us feel valued. I recall my paternal grandmother exalting me as a child to be thoughtful to others. “Don’t be full of your own importance Neil, be thoughtful about others.” She would often remind me to be interested in other people, rather than to talk about myself. She believed this to be good manners.
What these examples demonstrate is the ability to step outside of yourself and put the needs of others in the forefront of your mind. It has been my experience of life that when I remember this important principle then life seems to be more rewarding and I feel happy. The paradox is that the more we give, the more we get back. Poor Scrooge in Dickens’, A Christmas Carol had to learn this lesson the hard way!