The yellow shirts caught my eye. A group of approximately a dozen teens walking down Cookman Avenue talking and laughing. Immediately my curiosity was aroused. Then when they stopped outside the store I was really intrigued. When I found out their purpose, I learned a good lesson.
They were members of the New Jersey Youth Corps, and they were helping create a cafe in downtown Asbury. The cafe is for a non-profit organization that promotes the arts so they were volunteering their time. Their faces and attitude changed as they started working. From the typical teenage reluctance to laughing over the soap spilled as they scrubbed, moved and set up the metal chairs and tables they were transformed. There was not the negativity so often associated with teen years, nor the attitude. Doing something for someone else transfigured them.
So much of our society is wrapped up in a single-minded focus on ourselves. We are encouraged to self-promote through twitter, Facebook, myspace, and all of the other social media. Daily there are more and more blogs where everyone has the opportunity to enlighten the world with their opinion (including this one). And yet where does this get us? The highest depression rate since the Great Depression and getting higher. Why? Heck, all this navel gazing has to make us a little myopic. And the longer you look at anything, you will find all of the flaws.
What if we started looking around and doing something for others? Yep, free of charge! Actually give a helping hand without the concomitant bragging or posting, or the incessant need for payback. What a radical notion. Though it's not that radical, it's just been around for a few millennia.
This is what personal greatness is really all about. We can develop our strengths to our utmost ability and focus our energies until we are blue in the face. But what transforms us, what transforms others and leaves an indelible memory is when we willingly, voluntarily and freely help someone else.
Traveling around the world speaking about personal greatness we always ask for examples of great people. It never fails that everyone who is suggested as great it is because of what they gave to others, often at a high cost to themselves.
So, are we up for a little world changing today? (I know I am) Find someone who needs help and take the time to help them; no charge, no posting, no credit. Just do it even if you don't get a "thank you." Here is what I know, you will have changed the world in that one moment and perhaps for a lifetime for that person. There is no greater act in the world; there is no greater feeling.