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Leadership Thought #333 – Appreciating the Kindness of Strangers

April 10, 2012

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Yesterday as I was winding down the holiday weekend with my kids and our dog (Bambi) got loose from the back yard and ran off.  You can’t really blame the dog.  It was our fault for leaving the gate open and not paying attention.  We were all devastated.  She is still young and not all that street smart.  We live in a busy downtown area, and it isn’t difficult for your thoughts to conjure up many possible terrible outcomes.  To make matters worse she wasn’t wearing her collar.   It would have been an incredibly sad way to end an otherwise happy weekend if we had been unable to find her.

After searching for some time, I began to lose some hope but then my phone rang, and we were informed that a concerned visitor to the park had seen her running around and taken her in for her own good.   Thankfully, the person who called from animal control had been alerted that that I had previously called and was quick to make the connection.   We ended up with a happy outcome thanks to the kindness of complete strangers.

It would have been easy for animal control not to make contacting me a priority. It was after normal business hours on a holiday Monday, but the person on the other end of the phone seemed genuinely concerned for us and happy she was able to help us find our dog.  I also feel genuinely appreciative of the person who found Bambi and took care of her.  I’m sure quite a few other people were reluctant to take in an 85 lb. German Shepherd who was running around frantically in the park.  It would have been much easier and understandable to avoid her or call animal control and simply leave a message.  Instead to quote this incredibly nice woman, “we saw her running around joyfully, but it was clear she was lost, and we were worried she might get hit by a car. We know what it’s like to love a dog so we put her in our car and bought her home to protect her until her owners could be found.”

Sometimes we need to rely on complete strangers to help us in life.  It may end up being about something even more important than our pets.  I have been fortunate that quite a few times in my life other people have stepped up to be kind, supportive and helpful when it was needed.   There are many stories I could tell of good decent people caring about doing the right thing for someone they didn’t even know.  This is a big part of what makes us human – our ability to show compassion and empathy towards others who we have no otherwise natural reason to help.

The media is great at bombarding us with stories about the flaws in our human character and the regular breakdowns in community behavior.  However, my own experience has been quite the opposite.  My life was made better by two people I didn’t even know yesterday who opted to care about another living being and its family.  I am forever grateful and hope to continue to show similar kindness to others in my own life.  I highly encourage you to do the same.   We are all in this thing called life together and looking out for one another makes it a much more enjoyable, worthwhile, and comforting experience.