The Underestimated Power of Kindness

It was a bright Saturday morning in the late fall. I had stopped at a cafe' to enjoy a cup of coffee and scan the morning newspaper. Suddenly, I felt a hand on the back of my jacket and heard someone say, "Hey Steve! How ya doin'?"

Looking up, I saw a boy wearing a mechanic's uniform worn by employees of the gasoline station next to the cafe'. He looked familiar, but, at first, I was unable to recall where we had met.

He also held a cup of coffee, so I asked him to join me. Very soon, his story--and probably my coffee--began to thaw out my memory.

Five years earlier, he had been traveling home late on a February night. He still had several of his friends with him. A ferocious blizzard had arrived that afternoon, and by midnight, the snowdrifts were getting deep. He recalled hitting a drift just down the road from my house.

He had walked to my house for help. I had taken my pickup and a towing rope and pulled him out of the snowdrift and up to the highway where maintenance trucks had cleaned away the snow.

This has been a common occurrence here during the winter. I cannot count the times someone has also pulled my car from a snowdrift.

However, it was an unforgettable experience for him. He was only eighteen at the time, and he described how frightened he had been. One would not want to be stuck all night in a storm like that one. Within a couple hours, my pickup would not have made it to the highway.

As it turned out, his memory and account of that snowy night was a very unexpected--and much appreciated--kindness toward me. I thanked him sincerely for stopping to chat during his break.

His memory of our unexpected meeting in a snowstorm brightened my entire day. Since then, we have had several chats over a Saturday morning cup of coffee.

Leo Buscaglia wrote, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

Such simple actions can indeed have an underestimated power. Many people desperately need kind words, smiles, and listening ears. They need ears that will hear without judging and respond without possessing.

One simple kindness at the right moment can change the direction of a life and shine a light of hope when all light seems to have gone out. Sometimes it has the power to save a life.

Here is a great quote that I keep in my e-journal. It was written by William Penn...

"I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."

Make today a memorable day by sharing a smile or kind word with at least one other person. It is difficult to estimate the tremendous power and value that the simplest acts of kindness bring. However, they do not stop where they begin. Their underestimated power will continue to bring you a life of joy and memorable experiences.

Copyright 2005 by Steve Brunkhorst. Steve is a professional life success coach, motivational author, and the editor of Achieve! 60-Second Nuggets of Inspiration, a popular mini-zine bringing great stories, motivational nuggets, and inspiring thoughts to help you achieve more in your career and personal life. Get the next issue by visiting" target="_blank">