I believe in karma: we all reap what we sow. But I also believe in doing things for the right reasons without any expectation that you might somehow be paid back for your actions in the future.
This is what I call “pure heart” where your only motivation is to help others in need. And sometimes it is during the worst of times when someone’s true heart actions make the most impact.
For example, I’ll never forget the tragic events that unfolded on 9/11. As it happened, our company was hosting a large conference for our financial services customers in New Orleans the day the planes struck the World Trade Center. As the news trickled in—this was far more than just an accident—a dilemma quickly presented itself: many of our customers were based in New York City and were soon worried sick about their colleagues and family members.
But with the airports under lockdown, how were we going to get the 1,000 people attending our conference home?
And that’s when I witnessed one of the most amazing pure heart moments of my life. Without waiting to be told by anyone, our conference coordinator had called up several local bus companies and rented every vehicle she could inside the city. She then helped coordinate a plan where she set up tables by state as a way to get people organized.
We then gathered everyone together and explained what we knew about the situation. I asked everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence for the fallen. I then told them we had rented busses to take them back home. But, if anyone was more comfortable waiting until things quieted down, we told them we would cover their rooms.
Most people wanted to get home, however, so we loaded everyone we could on the busses along with food and alcohol to help pass the time.
But even as we loaded up the busses, we noticed people wandering over from a nearby hotel. They had also been attending a conference, they told us, but the people hosting it had just disappeared. “Do you have any room on your busses for us?” they asked.
“Of course,” we said, as we boarded as many people as we could before sending them off toward home.
Again, we did all of this without thinking and without a thought as to the cost. It was just part of our culture to take care of our customers because we thought of them as part of our family. We knew how scared they were and how much they wanted to be home with their families, so we did everything possible to make that happen. That’s what I mean by pure heart.
A few weeks later, we also did our best to help the victims of the attack, which included purchasing a new fire truck for a firehouse in Manhattan that had lost five of its brothers. Again, we didn’t do this as a PR stunt or to get attention: we just felt it was the right thing to do.
Did karma ever pay us back for those good deeds? Perhaps. I know many of the customers we helped bus home that day remain friends to this day. But the biggest takeaway is that we knew we made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.
How can you put a price on that?