I heard a phrase the other day: “Little hinges swing big doors.” I liked that phrase in that it presents a picture of how the small actions we take every day add up to something important. Yet almost immediately I started thinking of a different application – because the day before I’d heard a Fred Rogers’ speech where he tells his audience to think of someone who made a difference in their lives.
I assume most people think of a parent, a teacher, a coach, mentor, a boss, a pastor… someone in a role of influence who had an influence. But, I wondered, what about the little hinges who swing big doors? What about the people in your life who do a small thing that ends up making a big difference?
Often my copywriting work is a series of little hinges. One time my friend Lenore couldn’t get to an assignment, so she passed it off to me. That assignment led to another assignment that put me at a conference where I ran into a client from long ago, Julie. She connected me to a new client, Mike, and I’ve been working with him on his book projects for a couple of years.
One time I was asked to chair Huntingdon’s alumni awards committee. Because of that invitation, I was the emcee for the awards presentation. One of the people there that night invited me to speak to his civic group where I ran into my friend Rosemary, who asked if I could work on a temporary project for her. I’ve done that temporary assignment off and on for about nine years. Also, she referred another client to me, and now I work with them on their newsletter.
So, a lot of little hinges have made my copywriting work possible. I’ve also had hinges in other areas of my life.
Take the late Pat Stewart, for example. I volunteered with her in the church kitchen. I knew she worked in the preschool on Sundays, and one day I asked her what it would be like to work in that department. She’s the one who said, “You should go visit Donna Hoomes’ class.” And she’s the one who told Donna, “Minnie’s coming to your class.”
The preschool department (in this case 4-year-olds) gave me new insight into what you might call “missing information.” This is the room where fundamental concepts are reviewed again and again. Remember that Shel Silverstein poem about the circle who says “I’m looking for my missing piece?” I’m not saying everybody will find their missing piece in a preschool class, but I do think it’s a good place to look.
In any case, these concepts influenced the Story Shaping Project I’m developing. And this did too. A few years back, I was writing a series of stories about people I met at church. Pat was my second subject. We sat down for about 15 minutes in the office of the church kitchen, and she told me about the 50 years she’d spent working in preschool. After we were done, I said, “Thanks for letting me interview you.”
Pat pointed a finger toward me and said, “No. Thank you. Nobody’s ever interviewed me before.”
I was so surprised. Stunned, actually. I’ve been in the public relations field. I’ve been interviewed quite a few times on behalf of employers. And so have my PR friends. Also I published book projects, and I set up interviews for myself. It hadn’t occurred to me that some people hadn’t been interviewed before.
So I started thinking about how there are people who probably don’t realize what an interesting life they’ve led and that theirs is a story worth telling. That was also a hinge in story shaping, and through this is a door I’m expecting to see lots of interesting developments. (FYI, If you would like to be included in the beta launch of this new project, be sure to sign up for my email list on this page. Subscribers get a discount.)
In the meantime, can you think of people in your life who took a moment of their lives to think of you and, in doing so, swung open a door? Will you take a moment to do the same for someone else?
Enjoy your magnificent journey.
– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 28