Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lessons Learned from the Gleeful Greeter

So Ainsley applied for a job at school. Apparently it's not enough to be in class for seven hours: her day must also include a vocation in the first grade. 

Catty comments aside, I do like the idea of everyone having their own job in school. I like that it offers each student something in which to take pride aside from their schoolwork. 

Each child was asked to select from a list of potential roles and rank them in order of preference. There must have five or so choices on the list, but there really was only one that appealed to Ainsley: Able Ambassador. The ambassador accompanies new students and their parents on tours of the school and assists new students once they are enrolled. On her application, Ainsley added that what set her apart from other candidates was that she knew where everything was in the building and was friendly. Seemed true enough.

"Need the restroom?" Right this way.

"A trip to the nurses station?" Gotcha covered!

"Looking for the gym?" Follow me.

 Any leadership role within a small group is Ainsley's song. Her second, and admittedly reluctant choice, was that of Gleeful Greeter. The greeters stand at one of the school's entrances or just inside the building by the staircase. Their job is to greet students as they come in each morning and wish them a good day. Not as exciting as the Ambassador's role, but valuable all the same. Ainsley wasn't terribly excited when she learned all of the ambassadors slots were filled and a Gleeful Greeter she would be.

She attended a brief training in which the teacher told the team that their task was simple, "To cheerfully greet students and wish them well." She went on to tell them that their welcome was to remain unchanged irrespective of anyone's reactions (or lack thereof) to their friendly salutations. 

If no one said good morning in return, they were to carry on. If someone dissed their attempt to offer a high five or hand-shake, keep it up. In other words, they were to continue to greet everyone cheerfully even if not a single soul said Good Morning in return or extended any kindness to them.

 After this training, Ainsley was up for the challenge and excited to give it a go.What a life lesson this turned out to be.

She came home after her first day and said she kindly greeted more than 150 kids that morning. Some happily returned a kind greeting, while others ignored her altogether. But she was unmoved. She talked about how fun it was to cheerfully welcome so many of her classmates into the their day. Such a sweet and tangible example of how good it feels to brighten someone's day whether or not it's reciprocated.

I love the lesson for us all: You are lovely and kind. Be that. Keep being that no matter how anyone responds. 

Isn't that it? If we let someone's dismissal (being ignored) or someone's attitude (dismissing us) cause us to turn our light off, to leave the kindness behind, everyone misses out. People in our circle miss the encouragement and warmth of a friendly greeting, but the bigger loss is that we miss out on the joy that comes from extending the best of ourselves to others.

On the days in which I have intentionally sought to share kindness, the results were unmistakable.  I saw people's shoulders relax, their face soften. It's as if those kind words were exactly what they needed in that moment. All I did was note something lovely that I saw in them and speak of it. Have I changed lives? Maybe not, but I have changed moments.  Encounters that could have been routine became moments of encouragement and light for someone.

The world needs more Gleeful Greeters, turns out, and I'm all in. 

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