Wednesday, July 16, 2008

People are Watching

Krish is a guest speaker at my school. I had a chuckle over this story he tells in his book:

By Krish Dhanam
The American Dream from an Indian Heart

(Upon completing a training course I led) I found myself standing outside a hotel waiting for the airport shuttle. The shuttle driver was running late and I decided to be proactive, pick up my own bags, and place them in the shuttle. My thought process was fairly simple. If I put the bags in we would save that amount of time when the driver arrived and we could be on our way.

My ethnic looks, coupled with the traveling gear I was loading in the shuttle bus, led to some mistaken assumptions by my fellow travelers. You can say that they mistook me for a baggage handler who could not speak English, as was evidenced by their respective actions. The first random act of ignorance was committed by the woman standing next to me as she beckoned me to repeat the process she had observed me under take. Simply put She used nonverbal commands to ask me to place her luggage in the shuttle. I obliged and returned to my rightful spot and continued to wait.

The next act of ethnic profiling was committed by a gentleman who suggested I do the same with his luggage. Once again I obliged. This time, however, I needed to make a statement of my own. Instead of reacting I remember Zig Ziglar telling me once that in life you need to respond because people are always watching.

As a training ambassador for Ziglar Training Systems I have an obligation to represent my company with the highest standards of which I am capable. Yelling at those people that day would have satisfied me more than anything. I am an educated, honest tax-paying citizen and people assumed I was a baggage handler – many of who I must tell you are also educated, hard-working, honest, tax-paying citizens…Most people would have reacted but I chose to respond. So with a smile I extended my open hand to each of them and netted nearly $4.00 – what a country!

…When I boarded the shuttle and the man realized that he had made a mistake. He simply said, “I wish all my employees had your disposition.”

I appreciate what Krish says. I don’t have brown skin like Krish but I did have a lazy eye as a child. Because of my eye, teachers assumed I wasn’t smart enough to be in regular classes. People may be ignorant but if we give them a break by responding rather than reacting perhaps that grace will rub off.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach

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