You never know the difference you are going to make in someone’s life. One small act of kindness or a few words of encouragement can change someone's life - even if just for a moment. You may never realize what it meant to that person. If you are lucky, they will tell you or you will have the opportunity to see it for yourself. Like a small water droplet landing in a pond and creating a large ripple across the water, something seemingly insignificant has the potential to have an impact on people you don't even know. That is the story I am going to share with you. A small drop of positivity expanded into a tidal wave, reaching people I didn't even know.
I got permission to share this from my dear friend and colleague, Dave Fitchett. Dave is an outgoing, quirky, shot of adrenaline and positivity that I would love to start every day with. Time with Dave is more energizing than any coffee I have experienced. When I first met Dave about 10 years ago, we had instant chemistry. As a fellow hugger, Dave has a genuine love for people and unquenchable positive spirit. His humor brightens every room. He is a storyteller, data analytics guru, master presenter, entertainer and ping pong champion. Now, I personally find Dave's style a breath of fresh air, but not everyone shares my opinion. Some people couldn't handle Dave at full strength and coined the phrase "too much Fitchett" as a way to tell him to dial it back and be less of himself. Dave took it in good spirits like the sport he is, but I personally didn't take it as well. I loved the person he was and how he could light up the room. I could never have a bad day working with Dave. It just wasn't possible.
I was thinking about all of this the morning of a workshop I was going to be facilitating that included Dave and his team. I wanted to turn that statement of "too much Fitchett" around and make it positive. The gears started turning as I woke up early in the morning to prepare. Maybe it was the sound of the hotel shower as I was getting ready and a combination of jet lag, that caused the music of MC Hammer to start playing in my head. “He’s not too much Fitchett”, I thought. “He’s too Fitchett to quit!” Solidly convinced of my genius I quickly finished getting ready, grabbed my orange roller bag full of sticky notes, markers, LEGOS and laser pointer and headed to the workshop.
After arriving at the meeting, introductions started as the workshop began. The workshop was focused on the power of teamwork when everyone brings their unique strengths together. When it got to Dave he mentioned his personality and how much he loves people and that sometimes people think there is just “Too much Fitchett”. Here's the opening, I thought. I spoke up and interjected, “No. I don’t think that is right at all. I want you to turn that around. You're not too much Fitchett. You are too Fitchett to quit!” Fortunately, others in the room were of a similar generation and got the MC Hammer reference to 'Too legit to quit.' The team roared with laughter. The ripple continued to spread when that evening, someone went home and screen printed it on a shirt for Dave to wear the next day. In large block letters on a grey t-shirt it read, "Too Fitchett to Quit!" Seeing Dave in that shirt with a big grin on his face was one of the best rewards I have ever received after doing a workshop. It felt so good not only to make Dave's day, but bring a smile to everyone else.
Shortly after the meeting Dave ended up moving to a different company due to the spin-off and we were no longer colleagues. At his going away, he presented me with this rock. The Debbie rock. It was a craft project his daughter created when she was little. I'm not sure what caused her to name it Debbie. He gave it to me because it is colorful and always smiling, like Debbie. I love the Debbie Rock. I keep it on my desk at work. When I am having a bad day, I look at the rock and remember Dave's energy and it makes me smile. It keeps me in good spirits and helps me stay positive for my team.
The ripple continued to spread months later without me even realizing it. Dave sent me a note about the shirt and the impact on not only his daughter but a larger community. He told me how priceless the 'Too Fitchett to Quit' shirt was and how much it meant to him. The amazing part is that his oldest daughter, Maggie (the creator of the Debbie rock), was participating in a 46 hour long Dance Marathon at Penn State to raise money to treat pediatric cancer. It's called the THON and it's goal that year was to raise $10 million to help kids with cancer. This is the part that makes my eyes water.
Being a THON dancer is a rare privilege that Maggie earned with hours of planning and leadership throughout her college career. This is no trivial physical endeavor with the dancers on their feet for 46 hours. Dave and his wife Kathy packed for the weekend and Dave made sure to take his Too Fitchett to Quit shirt to wear as a surprise to Maggie. Dave and Kathy were scheduled to greet Maggie on the dance floor at 3am in the morning, a point in which Maggie had been dancing for 33 hours. Think about not only being on your feet, but dancing for that long. After seeing the Too Fitchett to Quit shirt, Maggie was blown away and asked to wear it for the last 12 hours of THON. Dave thinks wearing the t-shirt served to inspire Maggie and energize her to finish the THON strong. I don't think the Hallmark channel could even compete with this story. It's just too good.
A recent statistic states that 86% of Americans are unhappy. Having the courage to be positive when everyone around you is miserable is not easy. That is why positive people are so dear to my heart. I am drawn to their energy and unrelenting optimism. Thinking about the people impacted by one little drop of positivity warms my heart. It is my mission to be an unwavering force of positivity in the Universe. I hope that by sharing this story it inspires you to continue the spread of positivity allowing our ripples to combine and grow in magnitude creating a tidal wave of optimism in the world. All it takes is one little drop.