A few years ago on a Sunday morning I went into the forest for a walk. From the opposite direction, a woman came running up. She was plump, flushed and sweaty. To my “good morning” she puffed “ooh ooh” back and tried to produce what looked like a smile. Her running shoes were shining white and clearly new. She wore an exciting vest in black with fluorescent green stripes along the side, which I found very nice.
About ten minutes later she passed me again. This time her shoulders and her smile were drooping. In an attempt to cheer her up I called “You wear energetic colors!” “Well,” she said, “but the walk is not so energetic…” “You will be okay, I see that you have character,” I responded.
I had forgotten the incident until two months ago.
I went walking in the forest again, and a woman I greeted turned around and started walking beside me. “I should really thank you,” she said.
“For the ‘good morning’?” I replied, surprised.
She laughed: “Because you got me motivated.”
It turns out she was the woman I’d spoken with a few years ago. She needed to lose weight and decided to go on a diet and exercise. That Sunday morning had been her first day running. Her ex-boyfriend had said scornfully: “You? Sports?” And her family reacted with a giggly “You will never keep this up!”
“At the moment you passed me I believed them. ‘They’re right,’ I thought, ‘I can do nothing to persevere.’ But that one sentence ‘I see that you have character’, that did something for me. I kept running, I went to a dietician and I kept going. I now weigh 23 pounds less, and I’m training for the 20K of Brussels. That phrase has become my personal encouragement. If I have a difficult time, I tell myself ‘I know that I have character.’”
“Well done and I wish you good luck,” I said, surprised.
Since that day I met her a few more times. She always sends me a radiant smile. I’m her biggest fan.
Author: Carla De Boodt, Internal Cohen Brown Leadership and Sales & Service Specialist of bpost, Belgium
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