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A glass of water and an act of thoughtfulness

Being thoughtful is one of the characteristics of a caring mindset.

During a flight to see a client, I was traveling in First Class. Another passenger who was also in First Class sat down in the seat across the aisle from me. The flight attendant asked us if we wanted anything to drink before we took off. I asked for water; the other passenger politely declined.

An older gentleman walked past us and entered the Coach section. He took a seat in the first row just beyond our seats in First Class. When the flight attendant returned with my water, she was standing in the passageway between the two cabins.

The older gentleman asked her if he could also have a glass of water. He was thirsty.

She refused.

He asked her again and again he mentioned that he was thirsty.

She again refused, citing airline policy.

The passenger persisted and the flight attendant also persisted in refusing his request. Keep in mind, we are talking about a glass of water. Clearly annoyed, she explained that drinks will not be served in Coach until after takeoff.

She did not care that the man was thirsty, and perhaps not feeling well. All she cared about was protocol. Rules could not be broken. Exceptions could not be made.

Suddenly, the man who sat across from me got up, walked up to the galley, brought the man a glass of water and handed it to him.

Those of us witnessing his actions applauded. The older man thanked him, grateful for the glass of water.

An important part of having a caring mindset is being thoughtful and showing other people you care. This action made me realize that I was not as thoughtful as the man who brought the water to the other passenger, but it did teach me the power of caring and the difference it can make.

Being thoughtful means being empathetic, attentive to others, considerate, unselfish, helpful. It means seeing things from another’s perspective and trying to understand their point of view. It means breaking the rules for the right reasons. It means being the difference. When was the last time you brought someone a glass of water?

Subir Chowdhury

Subir Chowdhury

One of the world’s pre-eminent experts on quality and process improvements, Subir Chowdhury is the #1 international bestselling author on SIX SIGMA philosophy. Hailed by The New York Times as a “leading Quality expert,” and by Business Week as “the Quality Prophet”, he is the author of 15 books. His latest book THE DIFFERENCE: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Crown Business, 2017) made it to the USA Today Bestseller list as well as National Bestseller in India. In 2017, India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur established the ‘Subir Chowdhury School of Quality and Reliability’ – the first of its kind in Asia. He is the Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and helped his clients save billions of dollars.

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