You are perched high above a courtroom, wondering how you got into this position. You pinch yourself thinking, “This is a dream!”
You watch as the prosecutor stands up and addresses the court. The evidence is overwhelming. The facts are clear. The accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and should be locked away for years. The attorney begins to outline the evidence, building the case block by block. You watch a videotape of the crime. You hear the witnesses testifying one by one. Finally, the prosecution rests its case.
The defense attorney stands up, adjusts her suit and begins to say, “Good afternoon,” when you hear a voice thunder, “Enough! I’ve heard enough. Let’s not waste any more time. Guilty. Ten years in prison and no parole!”
The courtroom is stunned. After all, what judge would possibly issue a sentence before hearing both sides of the argument.
Who would do that?!
The answer? YOU.
And me. We all do it. We make judgments before hearing both sides. And nowhere is that more obvious than in the middle of election season. Do you:
When he storms into your office with a voice just beneath a yell, red-faced and angry about something someone did. “Before you tell me another word, take a deep breath.
But the real benefit comes from breathing before a crisis or stressful event. A deep breath almost at any time can change your mood, improve your day and help you achieve more. I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, my day is more relaxed and I have a better and calmer presence. As a singer, I know that I feel better after singing a difficult song. The reason may very well be the forced deep breathing from the diaphragm.
“When bad things happen, we all dream of rewinding the tape…but we can’t so we do the only thing we can: we take those bad things and turn them into situations we can learn from. It’s human nature to try to pan for gold, to find a positive slant in something so negative because anything less would feel like defeat.” Lee Woodruff, Perfectly Imperfect
Lee Woodruff dropped into my life unexpectedly. We were both speakers at an event raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Within minutes of meeting her, we were sharing stories, laughing, and exchanging email addresses. Some people have that incredible gift to connect with people in an authentic way that makes you feel you’ve known them all your life.
If you were to read only about Lee’s successes, you would think she never had a problem in the world:
Contributing editor for CBS This Morning
Author of three books
Mother of four beautiful children
Married to one of the world’s top journalists
Author of numerous articles published in magazines such as Redbook, Prevention, Country Living and Health
Co-founder of a foundation to help wounded servicemen
We so often read about people who are wildly successful, and think they are somehow different. In some way, the world only showers good things on them.
That’s not the case with Lee. We all remember when her husband, talented news anchor Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. Only a month after succeeding Peter Jennings at ABC, it changed the Woodruff’s lives.
My wife does an amazing job decorating our home. Maybe too good of a job. She changes colors and decorations with each holiday or season. Admittedly, I’m often clueless about the passing months and her changes remind me just where we are in the year.
“A friend is someone who will sacrifice for you even when you don’t know it.” -Skip Prichard
This past spring she changed the wreaths on our front doors. I suppose some birds took a look and thought they were inviting enough to build a nest. When we opened the door one day, the mother bird flew off. We realized there was a nest in the wreath and that changed everything.
Until those eggs hatched and the new birds were safely flying on their own, we would not use the front door. For any reason. Deliveries? We’d just walk the packages around the house. Visiting us? “You can’t enter the front door,” we shout from a window, “Come through the garage!” The air-conditioning repairmen who came to replace a faulty unit? Well, they had to take some extra steps.
We were careful to watch the birds’ progress, but not disturb them. We didn’t want to scare the mother bird off. All through the spring we took pictures and waited. Finally, one day they were all gone.
They never even knew we were there.
They didn’t know that we were going through all these inconveniences for their benefit.
A single moment can change your life. A single decision can have a lasting impact. A single relationship can define you in ways you would never expect.
That single moment happened in Laura Schroff’s life over 25 years ago. She was a successful advertising executive living in Manhattan. Her life was full and her schedule even more so.
Crossing 56th street one day, she heard a panhandler’s voice. “Excuse me, lady, I’m really hungry. Do you have any spare change?” She dismissed the request, moving quickly through the intersection.
Somewhere in the middle of the intersection is where that moment happened for Laura. That decision. Where the relationship started. Laura stopped, turned around and went back to meet the panhandler. His name was Maurice, and he was only 11 years old. She said she didn’t want to give him money, but she would buy him some food at McDonald’s.
For many, that would be it. A single act of goodwill. Not for Laura and Maurice. The one meal became a weekly dinner for years. Their relationship has continued to grow over the past twenty-five years.