Fortune cookie

Every once in a while you get a note in a fortune cookie that makes you pause and ponder the advice on that little slip of paper.

Sunday I got a to-go plate of orange chicken and brown rice from a little hole in the wall Chinese café tucked away in the far western side of my city. They make the best orange chicken in town. It’s not even fair to compare them to other places.

Along with my delicious lunch was this sage piece of advice in my fortune cookie:

“Someone is looking up to you. Don’t let them down.”

Who is looking up to you? Do you know? Is it someone expected or unexpected?

I was first introduced to this concept as a child. I did something to get myself and my sibling in trouble, and my dad said, “Your little brother looks up to you. You need to set a good example.”

At the time I couldn’t fathom anyone looking up to me. I was a kid! Why would anyone look up to me?

The concept still seems a little foreign to me now. Who would look up to me? I mean, I’m fairly successful, but how does that impact anybody else’s life?

Some of the mistakes I have made have impacted others so it’s safe to assume that the positive things I have done may have influenced another person. As a leadership development consultant, being able to influence and advise others makes sense. I forget that I also have that capability (and responsibility?) in life outside of work.

I also forget that there are eyes on me as a black belt and a still fairly new student at the dojang I joined in December. I forget that I’m a bit of a rarity in a martial art that tends to attract younger  and more often male practitioners. They may not be my students or my children, but they’re in my taekwondo family. As a black belt and a woman I’m an influencer whether I think I am or not.

Whether we like it or want it or not, somebody is probably looking up to us and learning things we would never think of on our own. We’re influencing and setting examples in how we show up, in how we treat others, and in the choices we make.

Being mindful of how we do these things is a great practice to learn from our own experiences, and it’s also a wonderful opportunity to teach. Sometimes just a piece of advice or act of kindness can make a huge difference in the choices somebody else makes.

Someone is looking up to you. Don’t let them down.

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