Two of the most important values to Extra Special People are community and growth; qualities that are seen in every program and event that our cast and crew work so hard to implement. However, the Big 3, afterschool programs and summer camps are not the only avenues through which ESP spreads those values. Behind the scenes, after 360 closes its doors and before preparations for the next day begins, ESP also mindfully cultivates a sense of community among its office staff and interns.
Last Tuesday Neil Stevens, President, CEO of Oconee State Bank, visited ESP’s office interns and program leaders for the first LEADS session of the fall semester. LEADS is a monthly breakout session where some of ESP’s vast network of community leaders take time out of their busy schedules to talk to ESP’s college-aged crew members.
Stevens, a strong continued supporter of ESP, has had over 20 years of successful banking experience. However, the advice he brought to the table went well beyond that of traditional professional development. The theme of the night was creating positive moments in the lives of others; whether it be in the workforce, through volunteering or within your everyday life.
“Every Day you have the power to create a remarkable moment.”
Stevens started with the way we conduct our everyday lives. “Every day you have the power to create a remarkable moment,” said Stevens. Those “moments” are intangible reminders of the positive influences in our lives; the memories that stick with us throughout the years, whether they be big or small.
For Stevens, that moment came to fruition when he met Norris Thomas.
Norris Thomas’ Remarkable Moment
Well before his life as a banker and father took off, Stevens served a stint as a paramedic during his first years at Mercer University. He recounted a day where he was driving an ambulance down a rainy street with his partner sitting next to him, barreling towards the scene of an accident on University Road, the south side of Macon.
After turning a corner too quickly, the ambulance hydroplaned off the road hit a fire hydrant and landed drivers side down on the side of the road. Within minutes the situation had changed Stevens and company from the saviors to those who needed saving. There were bystanders on the side of the road who stood by, but only one man came to their aid, Stevens said.
Norris Thomas, a Georgia Power troubleshooter by trade, saw the entire event unfold on his way to work. Stevens said that the moment Thomas saw the accident, he jumped to action.
“This man came and pulled my partner and me to safety just minutes before the ambulance was fully engulfed in flames,” said Stevens.
“We would’ve lost our lives. Norris did something very powerful in that he acted and pulled us out.”
It was an eye-opening near-death experience for Stevens, one that changed his life and prompted a desire to create similar moments in the lives of others. Of course, those moments don’t have to be literally saving a life. They can be small acts of kindness and selflessness that compound and create an impact on those around you.
The Big 3 of Creating Moments
In reminiscence of ESP, Stevens recounted the 3 components of creating memorable moments in life. Influencing the lives of others begins with internal changes, according to Stevens.
The Power of Perspective
Stevens summarized the power of perspective in a single phrase:
“How we view things drives how we do things”
Stevens described certain events in our lives as “clutch situations” where our reactions define our future actions. These are the situations in life that prompt tough decisions. They can stem from tragedy, illness, a fight with your significant other or family member.
“We all have a choice to make with these hard moments. We can look at them as a hardship to be endured… or we can look at it as an opportunity for growth,” said Stevens.
“We choose how we respond, whether we take a defiant stance or embrace change.”
The Power of Value
Placing value on those around you, rather than yourself or your individual interests; what Stevens called a value creation mentality. Thinking in terms of me vs. we, that is the comparison between yourself and the good of your team, is a stepping stone in creating valuable moments.
“We place the team ahead of us. We think beyond ourselves and make decisions for the greater good of all. And it’s cool to see that in an organization [ESP].”
The Power of Intention
Finally, the final component of the Big 3 is intentionality. These are the conscious choices that we make to learn the stories of others, engage with them and put yourself in situations where you can make a small difference in the lives of others. Intentionality, Stevens said, is important because it does not require grand gestures, but may ask us to step out of our comfort zones to pay a compliment or help someone who needs it.
The ESP interns left their first LEADS session with plenty of food for thought. However, the most valuable takeaway was gaining a mentor right outside the doors of ESP, strengthening our network and furthering our mission of providing opportunities for growth for everyone.