If you had 30 seconds to share one bit of wisdom with every person in the world, what would you say?
This was a Table Topics question at Toastmasters the other day. Table Topics are opportunities for randomly chosen victims—er, participants—to give impromptu talks. They are wonderful learning experiences and great preparation for a wide range of situations from job interviews to holiday parties. This, no doubt, is why most members of Toastmasters anticipate them with such pleasure. Well, except for the 95% or so who anticipate them with dread.
Anyway, back to the question. Now that I've had a few days to ponder, I know how I would answer it.
First, a little background. One day a new member of our club, about to give her first evaluation of another member's speech, asked me for advice. I gave her a few suggestions and finally just said, "Be honest, but kind."
She was both. Her evaluation was gentle, precise, helpful, and encouraging. I was impressed—if I had known my advice was that good, I'd have been using it more often myself.
Now, I try to do just that. So here's what I would tell the world in 30 seconds:
"Be honest, but kind. That way you respect yourself as well as others. Also follow this suggestion from the Dalai Lama: 'Our greatest duty is to help others. And please, if you can't help them, could you please not hurt them?'"
(Actually, that only takes 20 seconds, which leaves plenty of room for a few "ums" and "ahs.")
Some days, "not hurting them" is a lot harder than it might seem. But just think about the world we would live in if everyone simply made an effort to do no harm.
There's my 30-second wisdom for the week. What's yours?