Yesterday I read a post in a blog I follow that really stuck with me. It wasn’t actually the topic itself–it was a friends-helping-friends-plea, very well done though not unusual–but a single line.
Nobody is too busy to give another person five seconds a day. —Andra Watkins
That stopped me short.
Is it really that simple to make a difference? I think it just might be. If everyone on the planet offered just 5 unselfish seconds every day, that would add up to more than 9,722,222.22 HOURS each day of doing something good. Okay, so maybe that’s overly simplistic pie in the sky, but if I can make even a tiny difference to one person and all it costs me is five seconds, isn’t that worth doing? And if even a handful of people felt the same way, isn’t that even better?
I guess the reason Andra’s statement really struck me was that it changed the way I look at giving my time. She presented the quantity as something so small, so insignificant, so manageable, that instead of agreeing with a shrug, I’m now wondering what else I can do.
Five seconds? Really? That doesn’t seem like much. I could give several of those.
Besides seeing this as a how-to-make-the-world-better-in-five-easy-seconds lesson, there are also some marketing lessons here, however unintended.
- Make it easy for people (whatever “it” is). In this case, five seconds of time is an easier bite to chew than thinking about going to a website, finding the right person, and clicking the vote button, even though that’s still the task. Five seconds? Pfft. No big deal.
- Change people’s perspective. One a-ha moment will earn you a ton of mental real estate. I’ve been chewing on those five seconds since I read that line. I’ve taken that one statement in a jillion different directions. What can I do in five seconds? What if everyone gave five seconds? Why only five seconds? Ten would be easy, too. Who cares WHAT I’m thinking; the important thing is THAT I’m thinking about it. If you can get someone noodling on your idea, you can really make things happen.
Sorry, Andra. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what you intended when you set out to help your friend. But you know what? The five seconds it took you to write that comment helped more people than you thought. In your own words, Thank you so much for giving a tiny piece of your day to someone else.
Tammy, this post made me tear up. Thank you. It is the ultimate compliment to know that something I wrote impacted another person this profoundly.
I’ve been thinking the same thing. We live our lives in a perpetual state of ‘overwhelmed’, and I miss those little moments, those tiny things that people do for one another that make such a difference. If a few of us start living life with that in mind, who knows how it might change the world?
Thanks, Andra. Sometimes the threads that connect people are so unexpected. I’m doing my best to recognize and appreciate them wherever they occur. I’ve had so much fun reading your blog!
A facebook friend of mine just finished a kickstarter campaign to fund her business. I think the “5 second idea” played a big part in her success! Without using those exact words, she communicated a lot of really encouraging, and really bite sized and manageable, information on FB that made it easy for folks to support her!
Good stuff, Amber!