I am giving a talk at a roundtable this week. It is a big deal only because this is the first time since Covid 19 that it will be "in person". A welcome event, but a nervous activity. When you have been in hiatius and are out of practice for something by over 2 years, you wonder if you still remember how to do it well. So to prepare, I took some time away from my desk, my routine and my residence and went to a local library near my home here in Toronto. I thought it would be an uneventful step - not so much - let me tell you why.
As I walked in, the smell of the Balzac Coffee was super distracting. Maybe it was my small breakfast, or my weak will power, but I decided a minute to get a coffee (and maybe a pastrie) would be alright. I stood in line and the young man ahead of me, who had ordered, struggled to find his wallet. His discovery that it was not on him caused him to become ashen in colour and akward in gesture. I stepped forward and said "what did you order?" His announcement of a rather small order led me to say "that is fine, I will cover it". You would think I had saved his life. His reply, and what followed, though shook mine. "I will pay you back...some how I will". I smiled and said "its all good... enjoy." He quickly insisted: "Sir, I wanted to give you the money." I smiled and said, "its alright, just pay it forward." He took his coffee and scone and off he went. I ordered the same, and went to find a table not far into the narthex of the library. There is a quiet corner near some light provided by the spans of windows.
My work began, writing and reading. Then, came a moment that shook me. I looked out the window. There was the young man. He had obviously finished his coffee and scone. But something else. He had found his wallet. He went upto a stranger in what seemed to be a gesture of kindness, and then walked back into the coffee shop, returning moments later with a coffee and a scone. He handed it to this individual who externally demonstrated traits of homelesseness. I am sure the sound that I heard was that of my chin hitting my table top... "he paid it forward", I audibly announced.
So often in our lives the measurement of Progress is hitting the goal ahead. This is good. But when the goal is met - then what? As I have mentioned before, "Goals get you there but Habits Hold you there." This young man had his goal of "caffeine and a scone met". His day could have continued forward. His progress would have been "good". But to him, an instilled habit told him that if he did not do what he said he would, then it would be "bad progress". His habit? To not forget where his "success" came from. In this case, generosity from an equally cafeine starved pilgrim on the journey.
If we have forgotten where our "success" has come from, where our "richness" was derived from, where our "possession" originated from, then we have not progressed. This young man achieved his goal - he got his coffee and his scone. But his day was not a success because he walked away with them, his success came because of what he did - he paid it forward.
Discerning between "Good Progress" and "Bad Progress" is a measurement not so much of the outcome, but the result. What will do you with success? Why do you desire the success? How will get to the success? And who will you remember when you hit success?. The answers to these questions deserve some reflection and pondering, if for no other reason, then they may indeed motivate your success faster and make the sense of success longer and more satisfying in the end.
This week - ponder the above questions in light of your answers to these......
Personally – where do you want to be?
Professionally – where do you want to land?
Experientially – where do want to see and know thriving?
Spiritually – where do you want to be rooted?
But then add one more - Name the people you want your progress to benefit.
These will be all be pivotal questions as we continue in the month of June, and the six month mark of 2022.