Last year I wrote a post about a boy named Shaya. I got more email from that post than any other post I have ever written. Several people told me that this post made them cry.
So, I think I’m going to make it a tradition to post it every Thanksgiving as it marks the official beginning of the holidays and the season of giving.
Here it is:
My holiday gift to you: The Secret of Happiness (A Holiday Message)
Today, in honor of this season of giving and joy, I have a special gift for you. It comes not in a light blue box with a fancy ribbon, but in the unadorned text of the message you’re about to read.
It reveals one of the great secrets of marketing, of life, of how to connect with people, and, most of all, how to experience unsurpassed joy any time you wish.
This is my holiday gift to you, a true story that will hopefully touch your heart.
This story is about a father of a disabled child, named Shaya.
This story was originally reported in New York newspapers. It was so touching, it spread like wildfire across the internet, and many began to question, “Did this really happen, or is it just another urban legend?”
Yes, This Story Really Is True.
Well, that’s the amazing part of this story. It is true. In fact, because of all the buzz, a web site called “TruthOrFiction.com” investigated and has reported that, yes, the story is indeed true. It has also been confirmed by a highly respected Rabbi and author, Paysach Krohn of Brooklyn, who says that he personally knows the participants and that every word of the story is true as originally reported.
As I said, the story is about Shaya, a learning disabled boy in Brooklyn.
On weekends, Shaya and his dad like to go for walks. As they do, they like to stop and watch the neighborhood boys play baseball.
On this one Sunday afternoon, as they approached the ball field, Shaya looked up at his father and asked, “Dad, do you think they would let me play?”
Now, this gave Dad a dilemma. He knows his son is learning disabled, very uncoordinated, and has never played baseball before.
But Dad also knows that the neighborhood boys have always treated Shaya with kindness. And he feels that if he, his father, doesn’t speak up for Shaya, who will?
So he walked over to one of the boys and asked, “What do you think about letting Shaya in the game?”
The boy didn’t know what to say, and looked around to his teammates for guidance. Not getting any, he took matters into his own hands. He said, “Well, we’re about to start the eighth inning, and we’re losing by six runs. I don’t think we’re going to win this game, so what’s the difference? Get him a glove and he can play behind second base, in short center field,” which Shaya did with a big smile on his face.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team rallied and scored three runs. But they were still losing by three.
In the bottom of the ninth, they rallied again. They had three runners on base, two out, and it was Shaya’s turn to bat.
Dad wondered, will they even let him bat? But without hesitation, one of the boys shouted, “Shaya, you’re up!” and he was handed a bat.
But as he stood at home plate, it was obvious to all that Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat, let alone hit with it.
So the pitcher moved in a couple of feet and lobbed the ball very softly so Shaya could at least make contact.
Shaya swung and missed by a wide margin. Before the second pitch, one of Shaya’s teammates called out, “Hold on, let me help him. Let me show him how to bat.”
This boy came and stood behind Shaya, and put his arms around him so the two boys were now holding the bat together.
The pitcher moved in a couple more feet and again lobbed the ball as softly as he could.
The two boys swung the bat together and managed to tap a soft grounder right back toward the pitcher. Shaya’s teammates yelled, “Run, Shaya! Run to first!” And he took off for first.
But the pitcher pounced on the ball in an instant and could easily have thrown Shaya out at first, ending the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and, with obvious intention, threw it on a high arc way over the first baseman’s head, all the way into the outfield.
Shaya was safe at first. The first baseman turned him toward second and said, “Run, Shaya, run to second!”
But by then, the right fielder had chased down the ball and he, too, could have easily thrown Shaya out, at second.
But he understood what the pitcher had done.
So he threw the ball not just over second base, but way over the third baseman’s head, so far that nobody was going to retrieve that ball.
As Shaya chugged into second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards third base and shouted, “Run, Shaya, run to third!”
Of course, by now the three runners who had been on base had scored. The game was tied, Shaya represented the winning run, and his teammates were screaming with excitement.
As Shaya rounded third base, every boy from his team and several from the team on the field were all running behind him, cheering him home.
And as he put his foot on home plate, both teams gathered around him, lifted him on their shoulders and cheered him as the hero of the game. He had just hit a home run and won the game.
These boys gave Shaya the thrill of his life. Of course, they gave him something even more precious – their acceptance.
The Secret of Happiness…
Obviously, these boys had either been taught, or perhaps had discovered on their own, the greatest secret of human happiness.
And that is…
We experience our moments of purest joy at precisely those moments when we are causing it in others.
It is a truism of life—whatever we give out comes back to us, multiplied. Which brings me back to the beginning of this message…
If you want to experience some genuine joy, all you need do is take a few moments to spread some around.
So maybe it’s time to call an old friend who needs calling, to forgive what needs forgiving, to let a family member hear some healing words, to write that note that needs writing, to smile an accepting smile at the next disabled person you encounter, or perhaps to just relax in the moment with someone older who’d love your undivided attention for a few minutes, as all living things thrive on attention.
Of course, you may ask, what does all this have to do with effective marketing, the usual subject of my blog?
As Malcolm Forbes was fond of saying, “In all thy getting, get understanding.”
It’s vital for all of us to understand that our prospects and customers are people, too . . . and people like to connect with others who are unafraid of showing a little humanity, of taking some time now and then to share a laugh, feel some warmth, express some sympathy, appreciation and gratitude, do a favor, help a charity, be a friend.
Whatever your product, however impressive your expertise, people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Every now and then, toss a few pebbles of caring into your pond of contacts. Those ripples of friendship will spread and unfailingly return to you in waves of appreciation and loyalty.
Finally, I thank you for being such a loyal reader!