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SW's JOURNAL

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DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR IMPACT

Samantha Wills

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You have an impact on ever single person you cross paths with.

THE BARISTA who you get your morning coffee from – think of the difference a smile, looking them in the eyes & using their name would make their day, rather then robotically placing your coffee order & then going straight back to checking your phone.

YOUR COLLEAGUES who you spend probably the most time with out of anyone in your week. How would they describe you (when you weren’t in the room)? Happy? Kind? Great energy? How do you show up for work every day? Grumpy, tired & how you don’t want to be there…. And telling the office about it? Happy & interested in others, making an effort to be sure to say hi to everyone in the office?

YOUR FITNESS INSTRUCTOR you assume they see 40 people per class, multiple times a day, it doesn’t matter what energy you bring. It does.

A STRANGER on the street. A genuine compliment has the ability to turn someone’s entire day around.

 

I read an article recently, it was an open letter from a woman, who about a year ago, was walking out of WHOLEFOODS, a normal Tuesday, her trolley/cart full of her weekly grocery shop. Her mobile/cell rang at she was walking out the sliding glass doors, it was her brother, he called to tell her that their Dad has just committed suicide.

She dropped the bag she was carrying, her car keys fell from her hands, her legs gave way, and her knees buckled. Her world was spinning, and she just started screaming.

 

The letter, written 12 months on, was a open letter to thank the strangers who rushed to her aid. To the stranger who she doesn’t know the name of, or wouldn’t be able to recall their face if they walked past her tomorrow, who took her phone & spoke to her brother on the other end, asking how they could help.

To the woman who picked up her spilled item & contents of her handbag & ensured they got into the cab that called for her to take her to her brother.

To the strangers who helped her up. Who held her hands while she just sobbed, openly & publicly in the car park of one of the busiest grocery stores.

These people could have just gone about their day, but a small investment in this stranger, which only tok them a few minutes, had a lasting impact. 

 

In our early 20’s, a friend of mine had a job at a clothing store in our local shopping center (Westfield,  Eastgardens, in Sydney’s East), it was a unisex clothing store that sold urban & street brands.

My friend was a very lovely & kind person, and he was loved by everyone.

One day, he was at work in the store, like he had been a thousand other shifts.

A woman came in, and like always, my friend approached the customer & asked her how she was today, and if there was anything he could help her with?

She replied quietly, ‘Yes, I am actually looking for an outfit for my husband.’

‘Great!’ my friend said. ‘Tell me about him, what’s his style?’

She described his style & his size, and told my friend that her husband was 29 years old. My friend went about pulling some options to present to the woman.  She seemed a little withheld & seemed to be struggling to make quick decisions. , and as anyone who has worked a retail job would know, it would be very easy to get frustrated with this type of customer, and in a bid to close the sale, push them into a choice so that the decision process would be expedited.

My friend didn’t do this, rather he continued to pull different options, ask her more questions about her husband & the outfit, and executed patience & kindness in the interaction.

In the end, she decided on a pair of jeans, and a button down shirt. As she was at the register paying for the items, she said to my friend, ‘Thank you so much. You have shown me so much patience, and have not pushed me along. I really appreciate it.’

‘Of course!’ My friend replied. ‘I’m sure your husband will love what you have chosen.’

She looked at my friend, and said to him ‘My husband passed away last week. The clothes you helped me choose today are what he will be wearing for us to bury him in.’

My friend didn’t know what to say.

‘I was dreading having to come & have to pick out an outfit for this. But your kindness & patience have made this process as best as it could be. I can’t thank you enough for that’ She told him. 

My friend gave her hug, and express to her how truly sorry he was for her loss. He never saw her again, but him telling me that story has impacted me greatly, and still does 15 years on.

My friends investment in this customer, by being patient, asking questions & in turn, showing kindness,  helped her with one of the most painful moments of her life.

He had impact.

 

Nearly two years ago, I went through a really awful breakup….I mean, you never hear anyone talk about going through a ‘really great break up’, do you?! But this one was particular horrific.

In the weeks & months that follow a broken heart, you are in a daze of navigating what life looks like now, how you spend your time, and how to sometimes make it through some days, that seem much harder then others.

I do most of my work from a home office, & design from a home studio I have set up in my apartment in New York. This requires a lot of self discipline & self motivation, because you are only accountable to you. When the stakes are down, and your heart is heavy, and you just want to stay under the covers, & not get out of bed because your heart is in a thousand little pieces, you need to put a plan in place, in my case, it was a plan to self structure my day.

So when I finally was ready to drag myself out of the dark hole I had found myself in, I decided to throw my newly found spare hours that I would have usually spent with my boyfriend, into exercise.

I would sign up to two classes a day. One in the morning & one at night, to structure my day, to give me a place to be at either end of the work day, & to be accountable to be there.

I would go to the classes, and for 45 minutes, let the blasting music, and dark room wash over me, as I did a workout that was new to me, so forced myself to focus on it. To master it. It was actually more about the mind space, then the workout, but the benefits where two fold. I would sit in the second row, hiding behind the better riders, and as I got better, moved up to the front row. The instructor would always share things in class, personally experiences to him, lessons he’s learnt, books he was reading. He would often talk about overcoming obstacles, about growth, and strength from adversity. He had no idea who I was, I was one of about 60 people in his class, and would teach 3 to four of those a day.

When I found my way to the front row (a position reserved for more advanced riders), I had no business being there for my then ability level, but he could see I was showing up, and would often stand in front of my bike and push me. He would look me in the eyes & say; 'You've got this. you are stronger then you think. You are more, then this situation right now.' - He was talking about the workout & choreography of it, and the endurance required to master it. But i heard it about my current personal situation. 

He didn’t know what I was going through, and I didn’t know what the other 59 people in the class where going through. He had no idea of at the time of the impact he & his words were having on me. But every class, he would show up 100%, and would teach with such integrity, & speak with such honesty, the impact it had on me, and my healing process was profound.

Without knowing anything about me, or my situation, his investment in me helped me more then I can put into words. 

 He had impact.

 

Sometimes you may feel like you are going thru the motions.

Sometimes you might be having a bad day.

Sometimes you might feel that what you say, or how you go about something doesn’t matter.

Its matters; YOU have impact. You might not always know it, and you will never ever know how far it actually reaches.

There will be obvious times where you have the power to impact someone. But it is often the times you don't know about, and these are much more frequent, because they are every conversation, they are about acknowledging & validating those around, they are about listening & then asking that person about that conversation the next time you see them. it is about an investment in people. That is the impact you can have everyday. 

Every piece of kindness (even when someone is not necessarily being that kind to you), every smile (even when you are not getting smiles back) every energy (even when you feel like you don’t have anything to give) – Never underestimate your impact. - SWx