She was driving south on Shaw’s Creek Road in an old beat-up Toyota. Lucy and I were running north, and I could see her coming from for a long way. She was hunched over the steering wheel, clutching it and seemingly willing herself forward. Her face appeared pinched and sad, her hat pulled down low and her eyes almost hidden. Perhaps it was a bad day for her, for who knows what reason. But to a side-of-the-road-runner, she seemed to be preoccupied and I was cautious about not taking my eyes off of her.
Now, allow me to digress with a story about my teeth. Yes, you heard me. My teeth. When my mother was pregnant, she apparently took a lot of medication. That was in a time when the dangers of such things were not well understood or communicated. Suffice it to say that when my baby teeth started coming in, they entered in directions that teeth aren’t supposed to be in, and their colour was something very different than white. As a consequence, the dentist removed them. Then, as my permanent teeth erupted, they too formed angles that teeth aren’t supposed to form. My parents decided that money spent on my horrendous teeth would be money well spent. And spend a lot, they did. My teeth are the most expensive thing I own! To honour my parents expenditures, I’ve done my best to care for them. They are large, straight, very white and hard to miss when I smile. And if you know me, I smile a lot. My teeth get a lot of face time.
Back to the road….
She looked almost forlorn. And the day was brilliant, one of those fall days in Ontario where it’s just a wee bit cool, the sun is shining and the leaves are just turning crimson and gold. It smells fresh and clean, and wild. I was happy in my heart, and when I saw the driver, I did what comes naturally. I smiled.
Okay, I grinned. Beamed, more like it. My face exploded in a smile and the poor woman was given the full force of my parents’ investment in my teeth.
She couldn’t help herself. My teeth took over. She smiled. Then she grinned, and threw her head back and slowed down, then sped up. I swear she was laughing. And she just kept smiling.
The power of a smile is incredible. It can change a mood, change a heart, change the flow of traffic. It works while you are running, when you’re in a store, when you are simply doing what you do. It takes such a little effort, and the results are so intense.
Now, what does this have to do with anything? In my current work project with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, I’m spending a lot of time sitting at my computer and on the phone. I don’t smile a lot when I’m typing (who does), but I often do when I’m on the phone. I was talking to a gentleman north of Thunder Bay today, and we both started laughing about something I had done. He said to me “You sound like you have a big smile”. So I told him about my teeth. And we both smiled. Well, I did, and I am pretty sure he couldn’t laugh like he did without smiling. And our potentially touchy business conversation (about aboriginal treaty rights and the duty to consult with First Nation’s people) turned into one about how we often forget to smile when we’re working, and how good it feels to do it.
Today’s story, then, is about nothing that is truly of business value, like effective ways to use social media or strategic planning 101. It is about smiling.
But then again, how many more things bring success to your business or personal life than smiling? Try it. See how it works for you. I promise I’ll write about strategic planning later. But I’ll do it with a smile on my face!!!