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Do something and expect nothing in return.

When you do something expecting nothing in return, that is the purest definition of what it means to be thoughtful. Early on in my career, I experienced firsthand the impact of thoughtfulness. Some colleagues and I had been working around the clock on a display for a trade show and our goal was to win the prize for the best presentation.

One night shortly before midnight, the company’s caretaker was on his rounds and stopped by the office we were using to create our display. This was the fifth time he had stopped by and the fifth time he asked us if we had eaten dinner. He was worried that we might not do our best work on an empty stomach.

Being young and just a bit arrogant at the time, I brushed him off and told him we were okay. In fact, I told him to call it a night and go home.

Instead, he called the CEO and owner of the company and explained that he was worried about us. Here is what happened next.

About an hour later, the CEO showed up with dinner for all of us.

We were speechless.

To me, the caretaker and the CEO illustrate exactly what it means to be thoughtful. They were not only empathetic, but they put their thoughts into action. The caretaker could have easily left without doing something, but his caring mindset caused him to contact the CEO. The CEO, instead of being annoyed that the caretaker would bother him so late in the evening, treated us as though we were very special.

Both expressed their compassion and concern through empathy and action. A caring mindset is not defined by your position. It is defined by your character. By the way, we won the prize for the best presentation.

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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