How to Change Another Person’s Life

[A note from Peter: I originally published this post in 2008. Yesterday I was heard that Bruce, who is one of the people I refer to in this post as changing my life, passed away last year. Thanks for everything Bruce. RIP]

There is a very easy way to change another person’s life, and it involves doing nothing directly or intentionally for them.

Back in 2008 I published two stories on PickTheBrain by Stephen Hopson that illustrated the profound and lasting impact a single person can have on our life. In these stories, Stephen shared how a teacher who belted out “THAT’S RIGHT STEPHEN!” gave him the confidence to overcome the insecurities he held due to being deaf.

Very often, as was the case in Stephen’s stories, the person who changes us does not even realize the positive and profound impact they have had. Why? Because they have not done anything directly and/ or intentionally for us. Rather, they have simply been living their own life in such a manner that we can’t help be changed for the better.

Today I would like to tell you about two people in my own life who have left a lasting positive impact on me. These two people were only in my life for 6-12 months, but I will never forget them because they both continue to inspire me to be a better person and get the most out of life.

A Thirst for Life

In my late teens and early twenties I coasted through life, going to university, working, and partying. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great period of my life, but something was missing. Looking back, I think this something was a passion for life.

At the end of 2003 I finished university and a week later I jumped on a plane to come to Canada. I ended up in a small town in the Canadian Rockies called Banff, a place I still consider to be the most beautiful spot on this planet. Soon after arriving I was working in food and beverage for one of the town’s resorts. It was here that I met Bruce, who was the Food and Beverage Manager.

Bruce had a thirst for life that I had simply not encountered before. In his mid forties, Bruce was fanatical about the outdoors, in particular skiing. At the time I was just learning to ski, so I loved to listen to Bruce’s skiing tips and stories from the snow.

Bruce was determined to squeeze every last drop of fun and excitement out of life. I thought to myself: “I not only want to live with that much passion now, I want to be living with that much passion in 20 years time.” Simply by living a passionate and energetic life, Bruce showed me that I could approach life in a similar manner.

The Nicest Person You Will Ever Meet

It was 2006, and I was back in Perth working full-time in finance and banking. It was here that I met Allan, who to this day sticks in my mind as perhaps the most genuinely nice person I have ever met.

Allan was the type of person that you just couldn’t help but like. He would go out of his way to help you, and when you talked to him you felt like the most important person in the world. He had the friendliest telephone manner of anyone I have ever known, and at least a couple of times each day I would overhear him laughing and chatting with clients on the phone who, 5 minutes earlier, he had never have spoken to before.

He didn’t stay in the job long – 6 months at the most. However, it was no surprise that on his final day everyone from our department (100+ people) turned out to say goodbye to him.

Food for Thought

The lesson to take from these stories then is this: by simply living a life where you are happy, passionate, genuinely nice, etc you can change the life of people you come into contact with. Still to this day when I pick up the telephone at work I think of Allan, talking on the phone to clients as if they were his best friend in the world and nothing was too much trouble.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone thought of you this way?

PS – If you are interested, the two stories by Stephen Hopson mentioned at the start of this article are:

  • 3 Words That Forever Changed a Deaf Boy’s Life
  • Courage Under Fire: Facing Up to the School Bully

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