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The Unintended Consequences of Your Actions

Laughing girl with a butterfly on her nose.

Laughing girl with a butterfly on her nose.Eugene Schieffelin was a huge Shakespeare fan. Some would say he was downright fanatical! When we hear the term fanatical fan, many of us imagine a person that eats, sleeps and breathes the object of their devotion. In this particular case, one would think that a fanatical fan of Shakespeare would see plays, study and analyze the characters and the actors playing them all while reading up on the playwright. Seems like a lot, but it wasn’t enough for Eugene. He literally wanted to see life through Shakespeare’s eyes. His problem was that he lived in New York and not in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Eugene’s favorite play was Henry VI and in that play, there was mention of starlings. With the help of scientists, Eugene decided to let loose starlings in Central Park over a couple of years, as means to bring his dream of seeing what Shakespeare saw to fruition. Though starlings were not native to the area, not only did they survive, they thrived! Today, the unintended consequence of those actions is that we have millions of starlings across the country. Who knew they multiplied like rabbits?

Last year I had my dryer vents cleaned. This required the folks cleaning them to be on my deck and move patio furniture around as they performed their task. The haphazard rearrangement made a mess but when they had finished, to my surprise they vacuumed the deck and put everything back better than they found it. Last week, I had a delivery made on the deck that did not have the same result. The delivery man moved the furniture around so he could work, and when he finished, he left the deck in disarray, resulting in me having to go out to reposition the furniture and straighten things up.

The unintended consequence of the vent cleaner’s actions resulted in setting the bar higher for my expectations. Maybe it was purposeful intent or maybe it was unintentional, but it resulted in me now expecting that same level of service from anyone that does work on my deck. That might be unfair, but why should it be? Why not go the extra mile? I would like to think the vent cleaner’s decision to tidy up was purposeful, that they thought it through and decided to go above and beyond expectation leaving others to rise to their level.

A possible unintended consequence of the stories above could be that you believed this was a commentary on today’s environment, but I assure you it is not. It is just an anecdote about how the love for Shakespeare’s Henry VI caused starlings to multiply in the United States, and stories of experiences with workers and patio furniture on my deck which happen to convey this week’s theme ?

“Let’s be aware of the impact we have, in all ways, and not just those ways we wish.” – Donald T Iannone, D.Div.

Have purposeful intent this weekend to make a positive impact.