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$10 that paid major dividends

My wife was away on a girl's trip and so I'd decided to take my youngest son to watch Ant-Man at the cinema followed by a little father-son bonding at a local restaurant.

After being seated in the restaurant I started to hear a beeping noise. I checked my phone and my son checked his, and it definitely wasn't us. When the waitress came to take our order I asked her if she knew what it was, but at that very moment the noise stopped.

The beep-beep-beeping continued on and off throughout the whole meal and then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the culprits. A couple were sat about five yards away from us playing some kind quiz game on a mobile phone.

Had we been in a McDonalds this would have been fine, but we were in a decent restaurant.

Rather than confront them about it, we just rushed our food down and left. Unfortunately, on the way out I couldn't resist saying something along the lines of:

"Hope you're enjoying your game, because thanks to you we didn't enjoy our meal".

As soon as I said it I could have kicked myself really hard, not because I said something, but because of what I said. Had I said something along the lines of:

"Hey, sounds like a great game you're playing, but I just thought you should know you might want to turn it down a little as we were sat over there and could hear it pretty loud and I'm sure you wouldn't want to be bothering anyone whilst they're eating. Have a good one"

Said sincerely and with a smile the latter would have been far more positive for everyone concerned.

On the way home I continued to beat myself. I think I was most annoyed with myself for reacting impulsively rather than thinking about my reaction first and choosing my words carefully.

A win-win all round ... cool!

Luckily, by the time we arrived home I'd figured out a solution to the problem. Not only was it a solution that would make me think twice before reacting impulsively, but it was one that would benefit others at the same time - so a win-win all round. Cool!

In a nutshell I made a promise to myself that if I reacted impulsively in an angry way (no matter how mildly) to anyone in the future I'd add $10 into a Zidisha account.

Zidisha is a terrific micro-financing service that lends money to people in African and several other regions. In most cases this money is then used to start or grow a business, so I can really relate to this kind of entrepreneurial spirit.

The lender doesn't receive any interest, which I prefer as I don't want to generate a profit for myself from this kind of contribution.

And the really cool thing is that with Zidisha you can decide where your money goes. If you want your help to go to someone growing organic produce you can choose that, or maybe you'd like to help a woman who is trying to earn a living to put her five children through school - the choice is totally yours.

An incredibly cheap way of borrowing

The borrower repays the money they've received from you over a lengthy period of time and with a very nominal interest rate. If I remember rightly it is about 5% for the whole period of the loan, which means no compounding. So a loan of $100 might cost them $5 over two years, which makes it an incredibly cheap way of borrowing - way cheaper than conventional banks or other lending institutions. The interest goes directly to Zidisha to cover the costs and to help keep the service operational.

As the borrower repays the loan the money ends up back in your Zidisha account and you can choose someone else to lend it to.

I figured $10 would be enough of a punishment, but since that very mild incident in the restaurant there's only been one other incident and that was so mild that there might have only been me that noticed I was a little angry.

So, there are three major benefits from my little system.

  • It makes me pause and think twice before I get angry as I know it will cost me $10.
  • If I do get angry - no matter how mildly - someone who needs a little help gets a little help.
  • I get to eliminate any negative karmic footprint I might have generated by my negativity.

I use Zidisha, but you might well have a worthy cause that is close to your heart. It isn't the specific cause that is important it is the fact that before getting angry you will be more likely to pause for just a moment, and in that pause you will usually see that your anger doesn't benefit anyone, and so you just let it go, or deal with the situation in a more positive way.

Positivity is crucial, whether it is in business or in life in general. A little side bet like this one works wonders to help eliminate negative communication, whilst replacing it with positivity and helping someone else to create a better life for themselves and their family - if that is not a win-win situation then I don't know what is.

Zidisha - a worthwhile charity
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