10 Little Ways to be Above Average

By Marilyn Elliott

I once read a little book called, It takes so Little to be Above Average, by Florence Littauer. That title is like a little bell inside my brain that reminds me to step up just a bit. Here are some practical ideas on how to be a light to others.

1. Say thank you often and to everyone – become that person who is known for saying ‘thank you.’

2. Give big tips – if you can afford to eat out, save something for the staff who serve you. If you eat out on Sunday, consider giving a 100% tip with a note saying, “Thank you for serving me on Sunday.” Don’t be part of the collective that is known for being stingy on Sundays.

3. Notice the good you see in others and tell them – we might easily be complimented on our hair or our clothes or new car, but rarely does someone say something good about our character. Imagine the impact if you say to a young boy, “I notice you are a kind person.” Or to your kid’s teacher, “I notice the effort you put in to help your students learn.” I once had a powerful hour with a Franciscan friar. At the end I said, “Thank you for living the kind of life that makes this conversation possible.”

4. Compliment an older woman who is dressed sharp, even if you don’t know her – let me tell you, it gets harder to be fabulous as you age, and compliments become scarce. If a woman is making an effort, smile and say, “You look great today.” I do this in malls and on the streets. I have never had a woman tell me she was offended that I spoke up.

5. Don’t talk on your phone when you are with someone else. The dinner table is a terrible place to use the phone, especially in a restaurant. Even in a car. To talk on the phone diminishes the person you are with by excluding them. It is, frankly, rude. Common, but rude.

6. Offer to let someone get ahead of you in a line – if they are in a rush and you are not, step aside. When we give up our rights we become incarnational in loving.

7. Speak to servers (cashiers, wait staff, repair people) as if they are people – not best friends, but humans. Just a recognition that they are working inside on a bright day, or a question about what kind of day it has been is a breath of fresh air for them.

8. Share the things you love. Rather than simply purchasing gifts, consider who the receiver is and what of your life might be a treasure for theirs. A lovely sweater you have treasured, a book you love, or a pie you made might be a precious gift. Even a pie with one piece out of it is a wonderful gift to give.

9. Clean up after yourself – pick up your litter, tidy up the campground, leave things better than you found them. Even better, pick up something left behind by someone else.

10. Wear clean underwear – you probably think this is redundant, but I can assure you this is a mark of greatness. My mother told me so.

~ Marilyn Elliott is a team member for the Soul Care Collective.


One response to “10 Little Ways to be Above Average”

  1. Denise Wallace says:

    Ms. Marilyn practices what she preaches! One day she stopped me on campus and said that she liked to introduce herself, find out about ATS female students and how they were doing. Such a simple thing to do, but it totally made my day! I felt noticed and special that someone cared enough to ask! You inspire me to follow your example! You are WAY above average in my book, Ms Marilyn!!!

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