Celebrating others also celebrates you | Nandell Palmer

In his celebrated book, "Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell wrote with much encomiums about one Mr. Chance — a Chinese grocer in rural Jamaica — who was instrumental in having Gladwell’s mother and her twin sister attend university in England.

Mr. Chance loaned the initial tuitions and travel money to Gladwell’s grandmother, where the money was paid back piecemeal. While many people are owed kudos in this case, Mr. Chance, in my eyes, would be the ideal recipient to get the "I Celebrate You" nod for being a selfless benefactor.

I met with Gladwell’s aunt last March at her palatial estate in Jamaica, and a nicer woman you cannot find. With Mr. Chance’s seed money, she has given back a million fold to her community by becoming a stellar educator and author. But my mind kept going back to Mr. Chance. Who celebrates the Mr. Chances of this world?

I have long noticed that the people who seem to give the most tend to be the ones who expect the least. Some mothers have traditionally fed their families with the best at dinnertime, while they stayed back in the kitchen eating spoonfuls of rice mixed in with gravy sans the meat trapped on the bottom of the pot.

They are the ones who give up their bedroom to that impromptu visitor who happens to drop by quite often. In their book, nothing is ever too small or too large to give away.

Many teachers have given selflessly from their meager salaries to brighten countless students’ days. But oftentimes, those teachers are doing what comes naturally to them. They are not looking for anything in return. Near and far, we need to celebrate these people.

We should get in the habit of celebrating the contributions of parents, children, students, teachers, doctors, positive movies/TV shows, book authors, librarians, garbage collectors, spouses, community leaders, friends, pastors, rabbis, imams, missionaries, police officers, judges, elected officials and anybody who is worth celebrating.

There is definitely a gulf within our communities that begs for attention with regards to celebrating our grass-roots men and women in more tangible ways than what we are currently doing. The sooner we bring awareness to this social deficit, the better we will have become as a people.

I want “I Celebrate You” to become contagious in colleges globally, and even in high school, over time. It should trickle down in the workplace. I want to see employees celebrating employers as in the case of Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, where his employees took out a USA Today full-page ad on Bosses Day in 1994, celebrating him as an outstanding boss.

I read this quote somewhere recently: “Nobody made a greater mistake than the man or woman who did nothing because they could do only a little.” Never assume that one paragraph of good wishes to a friend, telling her what she means to you, via e-mail 3,000 miles away, will not change her for the long term.

Nobody has ever garnered any meaningful success in life by himself without the support of another human being — whether it was a helping hand that steadied the steering wheel, or a word of cheer to keep her on the right path.

And these helpers come in all forms, shapes and sizes. They are our friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, caregivers, babysitters and storytellers. I celebrate you all!

Check it out

Write A Blessing Media will present “I Celebrate You” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road. The event is free and open to the public. Food, motivational speeches and entertainment will be available. The event is a way for the community to say thank you to its people for being positive role models, dedicated parents, wonderful spouses, caring teachers, selfless doctors and benevolent human beings. To learn more, e-mail Nandell Palmer:

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