A Little Inspiration Means So Much

I was driving home from grocery shopping one day when I saw this little boy in the picture holding a clipboard and smiling.  It was your typical, chilly 58 degree San Francisco day and the boy stood so patiently in his parka, saying “hello” to every passerby.  His presence filled my heart and I zipped Moose around the corner to park so I could see what he was selling.  Whatever he was selling, I was going to buy!

Little Henry was selling $1 raffle tickets to support his school choir so they could take a trip down to Los Angeles and perform.  Oh my goodness Henry, you are a star!  I pulled out my wallet and gave him my only bill and told him I’ll take 10.  His smile got even bigger as he gave me the clipboard and asked me to fill out my contact info.

Thank you Mr!“, Henry said gleefully.  I smiled back at him asking if I could take his picture.  Of course he said yes to one of his best customers.

Henry, it is I who thanks you.  You’ve given me perhaps years of mental smiles and motivation that I so dearly need all the time.  Why do I love to blog so much?  It’s partly because of memories like this where I can capture, record, and come back to any time in the future.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Everything about Henry made me want to open my wallet and support him.  As I think further, it was simply his smile that allowed every single passerby to at least acknowledge Henry and say ‘hello’ back.  I’m sure at the end of the day, Henry walked away with hundreds of dollars!

When I got back home, I began to really go through a myriad of emotions.  I remembered all the times I couldn’t go outside to play with friends because I hadn’t finished my homework yet.  I remember thinking as a kid how I never had enough money to buy anything the other kids had, such as a camera or a Nintendo.  I’d sulk in my room like a spoiled brat.  I then recalled a change in attitude in the 9th grade where I started taking responsibility for myself.  I got a job at McDonald’s for $3 an hour, opening up the store at 6am to bleary-eyed customers just so I could buy what I wanted.

The reason why I don’t believe in handouts and big government is because of kids like Henry who are out there working hard for what they want.  Someone had to tell Henry that if he wants to go to LA and sing in the choir that he would have to help his team raise some money.  It was apparent to me that Henry loves to sing and would do anything to make his trip a reality.

The reason why I’m so bullish on all of us is that we all have the power to make something happen.  We live in a free world where nobody is inhibiting us to go out there and achieve our goals.  I don’t have pity parties, and I certainly don’t pity anybody who complains about this problem or that problem.  Every time I hear a complaint, in my mind I think to myself, “Just try harder.”  Sometimes the thoughts get nastier such as, “STFU, you baby“, but essentially it always comes back to “just try harder“.

THANK YOU THANK YOU

Sometimes trying harder gets a little tiring, I admit it.  Burnout is an inevitable part of life.  What we need to do is try hard at something we enjoy.  We’ve also got to realize our strengths and weaknesses so we don’t go down a never ending path of failures.

The next time you feel like complaining, think about the Chilean Miners, or Henry.  These people are out there making the most of their situation and doing something about it.  They aren’t just whining about how life is unfair, or how somebody treated them poorly, or how another is gaming the system at their expense.  No.  They are focused on controlling what they can control, which are their own actions.

If you don’t want be broke, know that you can become rich.  If you don’t want to be out of shape, know that you can get in shape.  If love is what you want, know that there are millions of people out there looking for the same thing.  There is nothing we can’t do.  Thank you Henry for your inspiration!

Readers, share with us any little inspirations you might have come across.  Why do people complain so much instead of do something to improve their situation?  Does low self-esteem play a part in not allowing people to take action?  If not, what is it?

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Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great story…. not only was this young lad dedicated, he was also well-dressed with a red power tie. I’m also a sucker for kids out on the street or knocking on doors looking for donations or raising money. Sometimes, I won’t buy what they’re selling, but I make a donation to the cause and thank them for their effort.

  2. david M says

    Sam,

    GREAT post!

    One morning a few years ago I found an envelope on my front door – it was from a young woman a few streets away – that I did not know. She was doing a walk for cancer because her grand father had lung cancer. I was so happy to see that she made the effort to produce a very nice and detailed letter and asking people to support her efforts to raise money.

    She was a college student that was going to school to be a nurse – probably also because of her grandfathers cancer. The walk was a marathon 26.2 miles and thus I quickly made a donations of $26.20. A few weeks after this charity event – I was happily surprised to find a letter from her about the walk and how much she raised.

    Now every year I wait to get her letter asking for a donation and I happily make this donation to someone that I still have never met in person. However, I feel I know her, she has the attitude you talk about at the bottom of your story – make an effort and you will suceed.

    Again thanks for posting!

  3. says

    I love the fact that the kid wanted something and was willing to try so hard to get it. It’s almost taboo to have that type of motivation these days – it’s all about handouts!

    It’s basically that same attitude that keeps me motivated each day. The funny thing about giving such great effort, is the effort itself almost becomes fulfilling. I am still focused on the goals that I am trying so hard to reach, but I am really enjoying how good it feels to work so hard for what I want.

      • says

        Well, in my experience, a lot of people feel threatened by a young person who is highly motivated to succeed. Since I work at a smaller bank, almost everyone is 20 to 40 years older than I am. It can be difficult at times to have good working relationships with everyone. I am not sure if they feel threatened or jealous of my effort and motivation, or what it is exactly. Maybe it doesn’t help that I am on the sales side of the bank (lending). I think people that are not in sales always seem to clash with the sales folks, because they assume we make much more money, spend all day out of the office, have it easy, etc.

        One thing is for sure, in the last 2 years since I have made a conscious decision to try and take over the world (haha), I have felt so happy and felt like anything could happen. I actually have a blog post going up today where I talk about the importance of enjoying the process of working toward goals instead of only focusing on the end result.

  4. says

    Great story Sam.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the low self-esteem card. In my experience, people who don’t think highly of themselves, or who are really self conscience tend to be harder to motivate.

    I’ve also found that taking action yourself, around those people, can help them to take action as well. Such as blogging. As soon as I started a blog, my wife was like, “Hey! I’d like to try that out as well.” Same with another friend of mine. Not to say they have low self-esteem, but it just goes to show that if you take action, others follow suit. Sometimes people just need a little boost.

    Did that kid have a bodyguard or was he carrying hundreds in his pockets or what??

    • says

      Hahaha, yeah man. I would guess you probably sold at least a couple hundred dollars worth of raffle tickets!

      High self-esteem is contagious. Hard work is contagious. Glad your wife has joined you on your journey!

  5. says

    I was Henry many times in my life. I had to stand outside grocery stores and kmarts for days and days to raise money for things like my 8th grade trip to Washington DC and football camps. One time I had about $35 worth of candy in my box, and a young guy (probably early 20s) came out of the store with a girl he was clearly trying to impress. He bought my whole box!

    Lesson learned when you’re selling stuff as a kid; Find dudes trying to impress their girl!

  6. says

    I was teaching a 4th grade class yesterday (I bounce around as a sub), but I know these students pretty well, and we started reading about Thomas Edison and how he improved the light bulb. To try and engage them, I asked the class what are the things they’d like to improve. They came up with so many terrific responses, I was so impressed and rejuvenated. I’ll admit this semester is more tiring than last and next semester, my final semester, will be even more difficult. But they encouraged me and motivated to keep going. Sometimes it’s little things that make us realize that hard work, determination, and a positive attitude are what’s most important in life.

  7. says

    Great story…at the Shoprite in my town there is always some group or another standing outside looking for donations. High school football team, girl scouts (including my little one this year!), cheerleading squad, animal shelter, and various other organizations. Most of the time the kids looking for money look totally disinterested. You can tell they don’t want to be there and can’t even bother faking interest. I think to myself, “If they care so little about their own fundraiser, why the hell should I give a damn?”

    Henry is much like the younger girl scouts who are just full of enthusiasm and enjoying the moment. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I’m willing to bet they earn a lot more donations than the other groups…of course, they do have Thin Mints and Samoas on their side too. :)

    • says

      Yeah, I hear you man about seeing unenthusiastic, non-smiling kids trying to fund raise, like they can’t be bothered. Henry was so appreciative and happy, one could t help but want to support him.

      Show interest in yourself and others will show interest in you!

  8. says

    Good story! You just met a future millionaire. I am inspired by some of the kids who go through my classes. The ones who have to go through so much to just get to school, the ones who get what they need from school and the ones who end up going to college. It is the same few who work hard and overcome their difficulties and succeed! Unfortunately, there are not more of them. There is a lot of potential in these kids, unfortunately not enough of them step up. The good news is some do!

    • says

      Some do indeed, and that makes me so happy! The Yakezie Writing Contest is designed to help target kids who put in the effort, but perhaps through some non-ideal circumstances, don’t have enough financial means. We want to help those who give it their best shot!

  9. says

    Henry is going to make it! If he has that kind of a drive at 9 imagine what he is going to do when he is 29…and that makes me bullish on the younger generation. I hate when people say things like the next generation is lazy or spoiled.

  10. says

    I think a lot of people don’t realize the power of believing it’s possible (I just posted about that a few days ago).

    Some just never think to do it, they would rather focus on movie star problems (Sheen, Lohan, etc).

    I think it’s great that you actually pulled moose over and made that kids day! I probably would have done the same, but only have contributed $1 or $2… (boo on me!)

  11. says

    Henry really looks like a great kid! I remember one day in school that they asked us to raise money on our own for heart diseases. Don’t know if it was because my grand father had heart disease a couple of years before but I took the task very seriously. I walked for Hours in my neighborhood, convince I could make a difference. I was sure everyone would give me something. I’m not sure if they all did, probably not, but I don’t remember a single “no”! Well, I ended up raising the most money in my class, in my grade, and was in the top 3 in all the school. I was so proud, even if my goal was not that but only raising as much as I could.
    So, what is the point? You have to believe, you have to be convinced and yes, I guess low self-esteem sometimes is a reason why some people complain so much. They don’t believe in themselves, so they don’t feel like they can change something.
    I will try to never forget Henry, and the little kid who wanted to end up heart diseases I was back then!

  12. says

    It’s good to see some kids are not spoiled rotten. I think kids in this country have so much handed to them so they don’t know how to work for something. I’m definitely teaching my kid the meaning of hard work. If you want something, you’ll have to work for it. Nothing is free in this life.

  13. says

    Great story. Alot of kids from a neighboring town used to ring doorbells in my town and my mother always purchased something in order to help them out. However, don’t get pulled into the notion that everyone working on the streets is a hard worker. Half of the men selling fake handbags working on the streets of NY are scamming the gvt out of taxes.

  14. Sandy @ yesiamcheap says

    Henry needs to do some fundraising for me too! I write a lot about my upbringing and why I have been so motivated to do more and be better. It takes a DESIRE to what to change your life and the WILL to do everything that you need to do to get there.

    While I know that many people are conservative and don’t believe in a handout, I certainly believe in a hand-up. If I say that I want to go to college and the government is willing to give me a loan (albeit one that I curse monthly), then I thank them for offering me the opportunity.

    As human being we have the ability to overcome much in life. It’s just, how badly do you want it?

  15. says

    Great story and I would have happily donated money to Henry as well. As a child I remember participating in fundraisers for school or sports activities. I didn’t stand in front of stores rather I went door to door in my neighborhood and my grandparents neighborhood. I had regular houses I went to that I knew would support the cause I was asking donations for.

  16. Sonya says

    Aww its stories like this make you look at your unruly kids or in my case sibblings are wonder at the possiblities if they appplied themselves or just got off the sofa, Great post. I’m a sucker for a goood cause myself.

  17. Charlie says

    What a cute kid. That’s awesome. I think that’s great he was greeting everyone and smiling. When I tried to get donations as a kid I was so scared of talking to strangers that I didn’t give myself a fair chance. Complaining and making excuses is so much easier than taking action that’s why so many people don’t reach their goals and dreams.

  18. says

    I remember having to sell chocolate and xmas trees for boy scouts…

    Now i’m a sucker for girl scout cookies, pancake sales, whatever comes my way… I remember the excitement I had when someone ordered something from me and I try to bring that joy to others.

  19. says

    Thanks for sharing this story. It’s easy to feel sorry for ouselves, and not do anything sometimes (ahem, getting motivated to go running…talking to myself here). When you hear about people making it happen (like Henry) it inspires you to get back to work.

  20. says

    In this “compassionate” society, we make it so easy to exploit the system that people take advantage of it. Remove motivation to succeed and you get, well, handouts. Encourage hard work for rewards and you get hard work. America’s always had a decent balance compared to other countries but we’re slipping. And it’s a slippery slope.

  21. says

    Such a cute kid! What an inspiring story. It’s great to be reminded that we are so lucky to be living in a free country, and be able to carve our own path in life.

    It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and play the pity card, but we all need to get off our butts and do something about it.

  22. says

    That kid is adorable. Great story and way to preserve a precious moment. Enough can’t be said about being positive. Just like not buying candy from a bored, unappreciative kid; why would someone want to do business or date that same kid as an adult? Thanks for the reminder! :)

  23. says

    My honey’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I would love to give him a whole week of new and amazing pleasure. I would really like to get some tips for some unique sexual positions and forms of pleasure giving please!

  24. says

    first of all,i would like to say you thankyou for sharing this story….little more inspiration can change our mind and we can go for a motivational step………in life,you will find more things that would motivate you at every stage………..

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