Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Inspired By September 11th, A Refocusing On Good Deeds With No Expectations

"This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. In the company of so many others, I would like to honor the many heroes who on that day gave their lives to save others. To all the rescue workers, volunteers, the New York City Fire Department, the passengers on Flight 93 who bravely fought their captors, and the countless unnamed people who offered love and comfort in the face of unspeakable violence - my gratitude is overwhelming. To all of those who lived and kept going after losing husbands, wives, children, parents, friends, co-workers, my heart is filled with compassion. And to our military servicemen and women who continue to dedicate their lives to protecting and expanding freedom throughout the world, I offer my deepest thanks."  — Deepak Chopra

The 'kindness of a stranger' resonates with me as one of the major 9/11 takeaways. On that day, for no reason whatsoever, good deeds from strangers were bestowed upon so many people. In a gesture of remembrance, 'doing a good deed' for someone you don't know is something we can do to honor those that were lost and the families that lost them. Throughout my children's youth they were asked to report at the dinner table "one random act of kindness" that they did that day. Opening a door, picking up a piece of trash, letting someone go in front of you in line, sharing your last cookie without being asked, picking a flower for somebody or visiting someone that could use some joy certainly generated feelings of goodwill. Much to their surprise, what my children learned from this is that it was them that benefited most!

Samuel Johnson said it well, "The true measure of a 'man' is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."  We have to "dance like nobody is watching," Satchel Paige reminded us. Many people network with the expectation of getting something in return. When was the last time you made a business connection for somebody else? When was the last time you were connected? Could there be a pattern here?

Those that have lost the most are a true inspiration because their commitment to grow from this tragedy serves as a reminder to the rest of us that no matter what challenges we face preserving is the only answer. Just as 9/11 was an unimaginable event, so too has been the last two and a half years in the business world. The survivors of both have had the courage to imagine a different way and the fortitude to see it through.

What good deed will Sept. 11 inspire you to do?