Are you one to go the extra mile for a client? Perhaps you have watched the movie 'Pay it Forward'. It is a heart-warming yet heart-wrenching tale about the power of showing kindness to others, including and perhaps most importantly, strangers. And the intrinsic reward is good for mind, body, and spirit!

Let me tell you about a personal experience of mine which reminded me of the movie title's significance. Not far from me is a truck stop which has at times served second duty as a carpooling lot for those of us with either an environmental conscience, or a desire to keep our monthly budget under control. I had arranged to be scooped up at this truck stop for an engagement to be held in another city. Arriving a little early and with time on my hands, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to pour my morning java when leaving the house. With a reusable cup in tow, I sidled into the store and poured a cup, then headed for the Customer Service Attendant.

Sometimes, it is the little or unexpected gestures that become the golden moments of our day The commentary which follows is somewhat paraphrased as I am not gifted with a photographic memory, but I do have good recall as to friendly customer service experiences. As I dug into the deep recesses of my purse for the change lurking inside, the young lady behind the counter nonchalantly but enthusiastically stated, “Oh do not worry about it … no charge.” I was surprised at her statement and could not quite comprehend what was happening. After all, are not businesses in the business of making money? Is that how not how they succeeded in a tough dog-eat-dog economy? I could not leave well enough alone as her kind gesture just did not 'fit' with my socially conditioned expectations. So what did I do? I equally enthusiastically argued the point! “I owe you something; I have not bought anything else!” and ignoring her kind gesture, I continued to scavenge within my purse in search of more coins.

I was also worried that this seemingly unusual and oddly impulsive young woman might get herself in trouble with some powers-that-be. After all, what is free in this day and age? Maybe a smile, if we are lucky? I did not want an ill-conceivable gesture on her part to cost her a job. After all, would not there be cameras lurking everywhere? Was this not a no-no? Surely, this was practically 'criminal' what she was doing!

Again, she insured.

After it settled into my mind that she was in fact serious and that she would not take money for the coffee, I thank her profusely, none-the-less shoving several dimes at her, identifying it as a tip. Oddly, I might not have thought to leave her a tip if I had literally paid for the coffee, since it had essentially been self-service! Before she could push the tip back to me which I thought might happen, I ducked out of the store with the 'culprit coffee' in tow. As I sat outside on a curve, refueling my java-depleted brain and waiting for my rendezvous, I began to wonder if this was a store custom or an impulsive action. I would later learn that the store owner encouraged staff to occasionally act on impulse in this manner. I think that some of the staff might very well enjoy selecting their 'Santa for a Second' moments.

As a Career Consultant, it reminded me me often these small and additional courtesies, offered along with standard services, can literally motivate individuals to return. It may be a coffee free like I received. It may be a cheerful greeting that is truly sincere. Or it may be a multitude of other gestures. A personally positive moment in time reinforced within me that this business has chosen to provide quality service, not just sales for the sake of sales. In having gone the extra mile for their customers, my car has made many a return trip to that truck stop when in need of a fill-up.

I now ensure I 'Pay it Forward' more often following my free coffee experience. I ask of each of you … think of the times when others have offered a kindness to you … have you recycled the kindness by extending a courtesy or kindness to another? Do not make it an isolated occurrence, make it a regular part of your life. By paying it forward, the emotional dividends you receive are definitely reward in itself. But that said, it is also good for business!