“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

November 22, 1973

It’s thanksgiving morning in North Hollywood, California. A day typically spent eating turkey and giving thanks to family and friends, the Mahavorick family of five will anticipate neither this holiday in their modest-sized home. This is the same home where 13-year-old Anthony Mahavorick’s senses will eventually be awakened by the taste of liquid soap being forced down his throat, the harsh collisions of his head being slammed against his bedroom wall, and the shrieking sounds of his alcoholic mother yelling at any one of her four husbands. Despite this home not being meant for joy and the future of its children looking rapidly bleak, fate intervened.

During one of Mr. and Mrs. Mahavorick’s violent arguments, the doorbell rings. Since no one could hear over the screaming besides Anthony, he walks over to open the front door and is instantly stunned. There is a large man standing there holding a cooked turkey and other delicious side dishes. He’s a delivery man sent from an anonymous family to bring the Mahavoricks a full thanksgiving feast!

Anthony’s reaction to this complete random act of kindness is expected as he rings out with joy. His father’s, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. He sees this as a direct shot at his quickly diminishing manhood and aggressively confronts the delivery man and adamantly refuses to accept anyone’s “charity.” The delivery man is unphased by Mr. Mahavorick’s stubbornness and insists the father not let his ego get in the way of his children actually having a thanksgiving meal. Instead of submitting to the reality of the delivery man’s words, Mr. Mahavorick’s insecurities erupt as he reacts out of raw anger and leaves his family on thanksgiving.

Anthony sees this as an awakening moment in his own life. For a 13-year-old adolescent, it would be very understandable to focus on the selfish, heartbreaking actions of his father. Rather, he soaks in the idea that a complete stranger with absolutely nothing to gain would go so far out of their way just to make other people’s lives a little bit better. This is the moment Anthony says that if a complete stranger is willing to devote their time, money, and effort to help him, then he will do the same for others.

This inciting incident is the catalyst that changed his life forever. From that point on, Anthony Mahavorick dedicated his life to improving the lives of everyone around him anyway he could. He knew that it is very easy to succumb to the undesirable and uncontrollable circumstances that so often surround every one of us. But he also knew that there is always more than one way to look at those circumstances. Some might see a threat, others might see a blessing.

Just a few years after that, Anthony changed his last name from his biological father’s to his mother’s third husband’s… Robbins.

UPDATE: Tony Robbins’ foundation fed over 50 million people throughout the holidays last year. Would he have done that without receiving this random act of kindness 40 years before? Who knows. But a powerful change always starts somewhere.

Spark Your Growth

When discussing kindness, it is only appropriate to bring up empathy. Where sympathy is feeling for another person, empathy is feeling with another person and it is an absolute wonderful quality to have. But unfortunately, no matter how strong your empathetic awareness is, it is just not possible to understand every circumstance and backstory of your fellow humans. This is why it is imperative that we express kindness any way we can to any person we can because you never know when they might need it.

As you can see from Tony’s story, a single random act of kindness can truly change someone’s life, if not make it a little bit better for that day. Therefore:

I challenge you to commit to kindness for one week

Each day this week actively seek out a stranger to help:

  • buy a coffee for the person waiting behind you at Starbucks,
  • help someone change a tire on the side of the road,
  • give up your seat on the subway or bus,
  • help load a person’s groceries into their car, or
  • hold the elevator door open.

No matter what it is, there are infinite ways to commit a random act of kindness - be creative.

Do this each day for the next seven days and expect nothing in return. Because you never know who might need it.

After all, as Tony taught us, kindness is contagious.

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” - Mother Teresa

»Please share your thoughts: Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Or, even better, have you yourself done something like this for another person? I’d love to hear your experiences below.