Lessons Learned Outside of the Office

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Compared to my past two summers working with The Pittsburgh Project, this summer's job is A LOT of sitting, a lot more than I am accustomed to. Thankfully, one positive angle to the office life is having the motivation to get some exercise.

This past weekend was one such weekend when my cousin Taylor and I were feeling ambitious enough to go to LA Fitness. Now, if you know me, “athletic” is not in the top 10 adjectives that describe me. I just try not to embarrass myself too terribly when I participate in athletic activities. At the gym, I ran on the treadmill and biked a few miles, which is considered a good workout for me.

Then, I thought it'd be a good idea to venture to the intimidating section of the gym, where there are only machines with 100-pound weights with nondescript pulleys and levers. It's that section of the gym where everyone has six-pack abs and knows what they are doing...except for me.

Thankfully, I found one machine that seemed less complex than the others, the triceps machine. After a few reps and feeling like I was on my way to having chiseled arms like Jullian Michaels, I wiped the equipment off with the disinfectant wipes the facility provided.

That's when I heard a booming voice say, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Yeah you. Can you please come here for a minute, Miss?”

I peek to the other side of the triceps machine to see a big African American man. He was obviously one of the trainers at the fitness center, bearing the LA Fitness logo on his shirt.

My initial thoughts were, “Oh no. He's probably going to ask me what I was doing using that triceps machine and then tell me everything I was doing wrong.”

To my surprise, he just said, “Thanks for wiping the handles off on the work out machine. We really appreciate it.”

After a sigh of relief, I explained to him that my school's fitness center stressed the importance of sanitizing the machines after using them, and that was why I did it. We shook hands and introduced ourselves. His name is Dexter, if I remember correctly.

I'm not sure if I'll ever see Mr. Dexter again, but he taught me something valuable. This week, I learned that the greatest lessons are not always learned during an internship in the office (or even during school in the classroom for that matter).

The smallest things can make a great impact on people. A simple “thank you.” Holding the door open for someone. Giving someone a compliment. Maybe it's wiping off the work out equipment.

Don't be afraid to do the small things because the small things do matter, even if you may not see it.