The author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People tells the story of his experience on a New York City subway, sharing space on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning with a father and his unruly young children.
According to Covey, the father was oblivious to his kids, who were yelling, throwing things and even grabbing newspapers from other passengers.
Covey couldn’t remain silent. He asked the man to please keep his kids under control. Covey writes:
The man lifted his gaze as if he saw the situation for the first time. “Oh, you’re right,” he said softly. “I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Like most of us would, Covey immediately saw the man and his children in a far different, much more compassionate light.
Such opportunities aren’t so rare if we’re willing to look for them.
Consider this one:
During a recent Cubs-Cardinals baseball game in Chicago, the social media universe combusted over a greedy man grabbing a baseball that a Cubs coach had tossed to a little boy in the front row. Did you see it? Many of us did during the live telecast, then looked it up online because it was so outrageous and difficult to fathom.
The good news is that the Chicago Cubs gave their little fan something better than a foul ball off the bat of a part-time player. They gave him a brand new ball autographed by rising superstar Javier Baez.
The bad news? The viral video that showed the heinous act of selfishness didn’t tell the whole story. Not by a long shot.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said this in a statement after the poisonous video had spread:
“I spoke to the boy’s mother today and can confirm the man did not steal the ball from the boy... Unfortunately, a video that was quickly posted and unverified has made a national villain out of an innocent man who was attending his first Cubs game to celebrate his wedding anniversary.”
Other fans in that section of the ballpark confirmed Green’s story, adding that the man collected four foul balls and gave the first three to nearby children — including one to the little lad in the video. The fourth ball, the one he was accused of stealing from the boy? That went to the man’s wife as an anniversary present.
So now you know the rest of that story.
Maybe we can learn from it.