Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions
Harold S. Geneen

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InspirEmail No 119 - October 8, 2007
'Inspirational messages to refresh the spirit and boost the emotional bank account'

The Law of the Garbage Truck

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood?

Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you're the Terminator, for an instant you're probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly one can get back their focus on what's important.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab and here is what happened. I hopped in a taxi and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded and missed the other car's back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident whipped his head around and started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he was friendly.

So, I said, 'Why did you just do that, this guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'

This is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

'Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it.If you let them, they'll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don't take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You'll be happy you did.'

So this was it - The 'Law of the Garbage Truck.'

I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me and how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people: at work, at home or on the streets!

It was that day I said, 'I'm not going to do it anymore.' I began to see garbage trucks. Like in the movie 'The Sixth Sense,' the little boy said, 'I see Dead People.' Well, now 'I see garbage trucks.' I see the load they're carrying and I see them coming to drop it off and like my taxi driver, I don't make it a personal thing. I just smile, wave, wish them well and I move on.

One of my favourite football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the football field. He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best.

Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting and good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses. Good leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present and at their best for the people they care about. The bottom line is that successful and happy people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. What about you?

What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by? Here's my bet - I am sure you'll be happier.

Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so - love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don't. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance - take it! If it changes your life - let it!

Nobody said it would be easy . . . they just promised it would be worth it!

Author Unknown

My thanks to my good friend Brad Jobe for sending this story to me.

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