Herr Blanke entered and, while traversing the classroom, announced, “I have some unfortunate news, I will no longer teach you Math and Physics”. He reached the blackboard and turned to study our bewildered faces.
Silence. At the age of 11, you begin not to like your teachers, but this one was different. He was our class teacher, and we loved him – everybody loved him.
Herr Blanke was old-school and strict. But he also had a sneaky sense of humor and a mischievous smile to go with it. He respected his students and forgave our youthful foolishness.
Here he was, scanning our reaction with a dead-serious expression. This wasn’t a joke.
“So, who’s your guru?” she suddenly asked. I admit, I was a little stunned and didn’t know how to respond. Did she mean the one writer I look up to as my idol? One, whose every word I follow because I want to be like her/him?
There isn’t one. Should there be one?
I follow many successful writers, and they take turns in popularity with me. There are so many excellent, successful writers out there who love to share what they know, and I feel I’d miss out if I limit myself to one or even a few.
Maybe it’s an old habit of mine to always spread myself out too thin. I want it all, a bit of everything at once, rather than one thing at a time.
But, here’s the thing about all these amazing, knowledgeable, and experienced writers:
He looked at me with a frown, “but we never give each other presents.”
“Not a present, just something, a flower, even.”
“But I bring flowers every Friday.”
“So, bring an extra one. I don’t know, just something to feel it’s my birthday.”
On Friday morning, I got up to this:
A handful of delicate roses,
three balloons over the kitchen table,
One set from my favorite dishes – the ones I only take out on special occasions,
and my usual peanut butter and honey.
A note said, “Happy Birthday 🙂 !”
I stood there with a smile and watery eyes! He nailed it.
He succeeded in making my day with so very little. And you know why? Because he knows my routine and what matters to me. He paid attention to how I treat occasions to make them feel special to me.
By showing me that he pays attention, he made me feel that he cares.
So, why am I telling you all this? Not because I want to show off my awesome partner (well that, too) but the main reason is that there’s a simple lesson that I want to share:
If you want someone to feel that you care, pay attention to them!
Pay attention to what they do and how they do it, listen to what they say and how they say it.
It’s true for your family but also goes for customers, clients, and readers. Don’t try to impress or tease them into thinking you care. Just get to know them. Give them what they need, not what you think they want.
The real beauty in this is that you end up genuinely caring once you start paying attention, whether you want to or not. It just happens.