My sons’ Boy Scout troop was asked to help plant trees in a nearby neighborhood last Saturday. I didn’t mind the idea of them doing a little hard labor on a shovel.
But I knew it would turn into a few service hours for me, as well. That, I minded a bit.
And this wasn’t working in a soup kitchen or raising money for charity. We were going to be planting trees in someone else’s neighborhood.
But hey, we’re Scouts. Good deeds, yadda yadda.
As we loaded shovels into the back of my truck, my older son said, “I think this is going to be fun,” and his brother said, “Yeah, I think so, too.”
I fought off the urge to ask, “And you guys know this from all of the holes you’ve dug in your life?”
Instead, I decided to keep quiet and let them figure out for themselves how much fun digging holes and hauling 8 foot trees in their planters was.
Thankfully, there were many scouts and dads there, so it wouldn’t be only us planting the 70 trees sitting in the parking lot. But it was still a lot of work.
The soil was damp and of a consistency such that it stuck like clay to our shovels and our shoes.
After the 10th or so tree that I had to lift and hold while someone else tugged the plastic planter off of the roots, I felt my back pull. Because, well…of course.
When we had done our fair share (and more) I was ready to head out. Frankly, I was still a little stuck on the idea that this was work a neighborhood association should pay professionals to do.
But, hey, we’re scouts. Good deeds, yadda yadda.
As we were loading my truck to leave, I noticed a guy a little older than me struggling to move a few trees. So, I walked over and gave him a hand.
When I did, he identified himself as one of the neighborhood’s residents and said, “I just want you to know that you and your boys have been a true blessing today. You’re good people.”
I thanked him and stood there for a second. My attitude instantly evolved. I waved for my sons to come over, and they were happy to plant a few more trees.
They even talked about the book “Holes” while doing it. (Wow. They read?) We ended up working another hour or so and planting four more trees. I even temporarily forgot about my backache.
Whether doing manual labor or white collar work, folks almost always give better effort with a better attitude when they sense that someone truly appreciates it.
Does your team sense that today?
My wife is about to buy a new smartphone. She has used the same Samsung whatever-it-is forever.
It’s really old. I think it’s a rotary dial.
She was set to get a new phone a while back… and then my son’s phone got washed in his jeans. So she used her upgrade on his phone.
I’ve been after her for ages to simply bite the bullet and pay whatever for a new one, but she insisted on riding out the contract. Now with the time to switch closing in, she realized that there are great old photos on that phone that we had not copied.
She’s been uploading them to a website and asked me to do the same with my phone’s pictures.
At first, I was hesitant. After all, my phone is only 18 months old. How many photos could I possibly have on it?
I checked. I have 831 photos (and counting) on my phone. Gulp.
While the total number surprised me, I was more surprised at how some of the photos jogged my memory. And these are things from just the past 18 months!
It drove home to me the information overload most of us live with.
Sure, lots of photos are of my family. But I’m also in the habit of taking random shots of things that strike me as funny or absurd or impressive. I’ll often take photos of smart marketing pieces and displays.
Several of the photos I rediscovered reminded me of things I meant to address and didn’t. A few were from business trips that reminded me that some follow-ups are overdue.
Going through the photos became practically a visual review of my calendar of the past year.
And while there was some nostalgia, there were almost as many photos that served as reminders and prods to take action on things that slipped my mind.
If you’re a routine photo snapper as well, take a minute to pull up your older photos and click your way up. You may be surprised at how much it feels both like a personal documentary and a “to do” list.
Take pictures of storefronts, marketing displays, kiosks, etc. that impress you to share with your team. Looking at other folks’ great ideas can often spur you to generate your own.
And maybe get in the habit of taking photos that make you smile, think, or feel inspired.
If you see something brilliant or moving, make a picture of it part of the personal motivational presentation you keep in your pocket.
But try not to run it through a wash cycle.