“If you want the world to be a better place, recognize those who are already making it better.” -James Sarvis

    There was a story that went viral about a woman named Heather Gooch who was on an airplane with her 9-month-old baby boy, Aiden. Much like most babies on an airplane, her son started getting antsy. Heather was feeling stressed about this, but it wasn’t long into the flight before a flight attendant named Anissa noticed them, and offered to hold him. Aiden smiled and waved at passengers as Anissa walked him up and down the aisle. “Although this may not be a story that stands out from the rest, I wanted to thank her and let her know how appreciated she is,“ Gooch wrote. “We so often hear about the negative things going on so I wanted to share this story of someone who made my trip a little brighter.” Gooch said that Anissa deserves to be recognized for putting her baby on “cloud 9.”

    Several years ago I was staying in Nashville Tennessee at the Hampton Inn near the Vanderbilt University, when I encountered a woman named Miss Anita, the breakfast hostess in the dining area. There were several tables in there with maybe 15-20 guests. As I was eating, I noticed Miss Anita going over to guests, and quietly placing little boxes of mints beside them. She was saying something that I couldn’t hear as she was putting the little boxes down. Soon, she worked her way over to me. I saw her hand place a little box on my table, and she said in a kind and spirit-charging voice, “Good morning, sir. I hope you have a blessed day.” Then she went on her way. I sat there thinking about how good her kind words and simple gesture made me feel, and how much I appreciated it. After I finished eating, I saw Miss Anita standing as if she was waiting for someone who needed her service. I approached her, and I thanked her for the little gift and the kind words. Then, I asked her how long she had been doing that for guests, and she told me she’d been doing it for years. I asked her if any one had ever recognized her, or thanked her directly for doing it, and she said no. But, she said people remembered her when they came back. She told me about a lady and a little girl who were excited to see her, and she smiled as she said it.

     I told her at The Leaning Institute it was part of my mission to recognize Leaners like herself, and I gave her $50. She said that she really appreciated it so much and that things had been tough for her lately; and, that recognition was a bright moment for her. Miss Anita deserved being recognized.

    Another Leaner story came from my Amish friend, Regina. When her little boy was seriously ill with pneumonia, she had to stay in the children’s hospital for several days and nights. The first night she had to sleep in a chair next to him. But when I brought her husband back to visit the next day, she had a bed in their room. She had the biggest smile as she said, “A Leaner Nurse got me a bed.” She knew that I would know what she meant by a “Leaner Nurse.” Regina was so grateful. That bed brought much needed comfort and the nurse charged her spirit during a scary and difficult time.

    I think most of us know the difference between a Leaner Nurse vs a Non-Leaner Nurse when we or a loved one has had to stay in the hospital. This Leaner Nurse and others like her deserve to be recognized.

    Whether it’s a doctor, a teacher, a waiter, a policeman, a nurse, or anyone who makes your day a little better by leaning to you with kindness, recognize them. The mission at The Leaning Institute is to recognize Leaners, preserve the ones we have, and foster new Leaners.

If you want the world to be a better place, recognize those who are already making it better.



These articles are co-written by James and Elisha, based on the books and work created and founded by James.