Today’s post is the featured article from the August 2008 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

blumbergface1It was in that split second that I knew and felt the impact of a smile.

I needed help. Not a lot — just a little. The marketing slogan of this home improvement warehouse’s competitor is “You can do it. We can help!” And I needed a little help. I finally found a store clerk. Although available, she did not seem too helpful. She seemed distracted and tired. I couldn’t tell if I was an inconvenience or if she had just had a really long day. Maybe both.

The product I wanted was in stock — just not within the customer’s reach. She quietly moved a rolling ladder in place and climbed to the top of the stairs. She slowly investigated the stock on the top of the warehouse shelving. She located my item. It didn’t appear heavy, but rather a bit awkward. I was afraid she was going to fall. I felt a tinge of empathy replacing a piece of my frustration. She safely reached the floor and without saying a word began to proceed down the aisle with the product. I had no idea where we were going, but it seemed appropriate to follow.

So I followed her to a nearby computer terminal. Asking for some general information, she proceeded to key-in the data. All the while, I was wondering what in the world is she doing — just give me the product so I can go check-out and go! It only took a moment. And then in the next moment everything changed! She finished and said, “Mr. Blumberg I have registered your product for you. That will make it easier for you at the check-out. Just give them this code.” And then she smiled. All of my pent-up assumptions and frustrations melted in an instant. I was defenseless. It was in that moment I realized the value of one of the simplest things in the world — something that everyone has if they choose to use it.

I am not talking about the fake smile that is plastered on the shallow. But rather the genuine kind of smile that reaches all the way up to the eyes and down to the depths your heart. It may be your greatest asset. I am convinced we would use it more if we only knew what truly happened in the shadow of our smiles.

I remember McDonald’s former advertising campaign slogan — We love to see you smile! The problem was that most of the people behind the counter weren’t smiling. Maybe McDonald’s should have run a simultaneous internal customer service campaign — We love to smile!

I remember growing up during the Cold War Era. I remember countless stories of people who had visited the Soviet Union. And each story had one common observation — what is most striking is that no one is smiling. The lack of smiles on the face of a society or on the face of one individual behind the counter are both telling.

Some might say — I just don’t feel like smiling. Did you ever think this is one of those “which comes first — chicken or the egg” issues. I can still remember my summer job just before starting college. I was the checker in a grocery store. As you can imagine, as an 18-year-old, there were many other places I would rather be than work. I had a consistent plan for those days where I really did not want to be there. For the first 30-minutes, I would simply plan to intentionally and genuinely smile at every customer that came through my check-out line. Within 30-minutes, I knew my attitude would change and I would enjoy being there. It worked every time!

Look around. Take inventory. How many genuine smiles do you experience on any given day? Then go look in the mirror and take an introspective inventory. How much are you smiling? Make a commitment to increase your personal smile inventory. It just might have an impact on everything — your perspective, your attitude, your job satisfaction, your impact at work, your family and just possibly the number of smiles you see around you. You just never know for sure what just might happen — in the shadow of your smile.

ACTION IDEA: Simple. Just smile. More often!