Are You a Rhino, Elephant, Ostrich or Rabbit?

Are You a Rhino, Elephant, Ostrich or Rabbit?

Small Choices. Big Impact

Maurice Cheeks & Natalie Gilbert

13-year old Natalie Gilbert was chosen to sing the national anthem in front of twenty thousand basketball fans at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. As she began singing, she stumbled on the words and scanned the crowd desperately trying to recall the lyrics. Looking to her father for support, she froze—a young teen lost amongst a crowd of thousands.

Maurice Cheeks, the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, made a split second choice to rush to the podium. With his arm wrapped around her, he nudged her to continue, feeding her lines that guided her to complete the song. Gesticulating like a conductor, he rallied the crowd to join and accompany their singing. (spoiler: tear jerker)

What was it about this moment that allowed a coach who was dealing with his own stress of his team being down 2-0 in the series, to selflessly support a girl he did not know?

Maurice chose to make himself vulnerable in front of thousands of fans and viewers. This is a story about humanity—a tale of one man, who in less than two minutes, inspired millions.

The moment was powerful in so many ways:

  • He exemplified empathy, kindness and sportsmanship, reminding us that sports can be a platform for uplifting others.
  • He showed up with compassion and support in a moment of difficulty. We too can show up to support others regardless of age, race, and background.
  • He made such a small act of kindness that made the biggest impact. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

During an interview years later Natalie shared, “It was like a guardian angel had come and put his arm around my shoulder to help me get through one of my most difficult experiences.”

As we consider our own choices, reflecting on Mo’s act of kindness and selflessness is inspiring:

  • Do you remember a time when you showed kindness to someone in need? How were you feeling at that time? What made you act or not act?
  • When you show up selflessly, what’s the benefit to you?
  • What values guide your actions toward others?
  • Do you believe that acts of kindness and selflessness can have a ripple effect on not only the recipient, but also those around them? How do you think this impact can spread and grow?

Reflecting on our choices can inspire us to be more intentional in our actions and create a cascade of positive change around us. When we make a conscious choice to approach others with kindness and empathy, we not only make a positive impact on their lives, but also cultivate more meaning and fulfillment in our own lives.