Primers: Stories to Inspire for the Coming Year

Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.” Anna Taylor

Delivering More than Mail

The name Floyd Martin may not mean much to you, but to the residents of a community in Marietta, GA, it carries significant weight. Martin was a mailman for 35 years. Aside from mail, he delivered smiles to the residents, treats to the dogs and cats, and lollipops to the kids. He also delivered packages to the doorsteps so the elderly wouldn’t have to walk to their mailbox at the end of the driveway. He would put $20 in the mailbox when one of the kids graduated. He even found time to bring the mail inside and have a short visit with a sleep-deprived mom juggling laundry and diapers. Martin found a way to weave acts of kindness into his daily work, positively impacting the community. 

His impact was so felt that when he retired, the neighbors along his mail route threw a block party on his last day of work to thank him. That’s not all. When the neighborhood discovered Martin’s dream vacation was to go to Hawaii, they started a Go Fund Me to foot the bill. When Delta Airlines heard about it, they decided to pay for his flight to his dream vacation. 

Martin is a reminder that impact need not be big to be felt or noticed, but should be consistent and meaningful, even in small doses. And it all begins with initiative. 

Impact Begins With Initiative

When Martin began his career as a US postal worker, he considered quitting on several occasions. His mom’s encouragement helped to pare down the frustration. As difficult as the job was, the reward was in the relationships he built with small acts of kindness that made it all worth it. 

Just like Floyd, I believe we can all make an impact right where we are. We don’t need to travel to a different city, country, or continent. All you need is to start where you are with what you can do. No one told Floyd to do what he did. He could have easily delivered the mail every day and gone home. But he saw his route as more than mail. He saw the people connected with the mailboxes and delivered kindness, love, and compassion. 

What do you see around you? Better yet, who do you see around you? Proper sight precedes doing what is right. Next, ask yourself, What do I have? Too many of us are writing ourselves off from making an impact because of inadequacies and deficiencies. I urge you to jettison that mode of thinking. 

As the last month of the year begins, I hope the stories I share each week, such as Floyd’s, will prime your mind with inspiration for the coming year. What you have might seem little, but if you take the initiative to give it with consistency, like Floyd, it will accumulate into impact. 

Impact Requires Consistency

There’s a way that our 9 to 5’s can become monotonous to the point of downright boring. Seeing the same people at work or school is not always the best thing. This was Floyd’s predicament. He delivered mail on the same mail route for more than 20 years! What was Floyd’s remedy or antidote for the mundane?

He chose to engage in what would outlive him. He rocked every person on his mail route with hope, showered them with kindness, brightened their day with words of encouragement, and dissipated their worries and fears with his presence and hugs. He turned his career into a calling. On the surface, they appear to be small, but bit by bit these drops end up filling the bucket of people’s hearts. How different would your day be if you set out to do what Floyd did on his route? It can help alleviate much of the chaos our world suffers from today. 

Impact happens by inchmeal. Little by little, it accrues like interest in a money market account. And just like the account that grows as the interest accrues, as we consistently pour into others, that impact results in an enriching environment. 

Impact Creates Enrichment

Floyd Martin did not see the outcome of a block party and a paid flight to his dream vacation when he began making an impact. It was his way of bringing joy into other people’s lives daily, and in doing so, he enriched his own.

He did not wait to find meaning as most of us do. He built it into his job by connecting it to a greater purpose, serving others. He was as committed to people as he was to his job. This reminds me of a speech regarding personal renewal delivered on November 10, 1990, by John W. Gardner, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. He said this about commitment and meaning:

We tend to think of youth and the active middle years as the years of commitment.  As you get a little older, you’re told you’ve earned the right to think about yourself. But that’s a deadly prescription! People of every age need commitments beyond self, need the meaning that commitments provide. Self-preoccupation is a prison, as every self-absorbed person finally knows. Commitments to larger purposes can get you out of prison.”

And a commitment to serve others is the key to getting out of that prison. The field of life does not ask for your needs; it asks for a seed. Service is the seed we sow into the lives of others. There is no higher fulfillment in life than knowing that you served others. Look for ways to serve, no matter how small they might be. As you water others, you too will be watered.

Final thought: What does the name Floyd Martin mean to you now? He shows us the importance of impact and how we can create enriching environments around us by taking the initiative to consistently sprinkle value into others.

Keep on Keeping on!

Notes Accessed on 11/29/2022

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