Last Friday night, I was meeting a close friend for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Dubai, “Jean George.”
I have not seen this very close friend for a while, so I was really looking forward to the evening.
I was in my big Silverado pickup truck stopped at a traffic light, enjoying a nice cigar, listening to music and looking forward to my dinner when the car next to me crashes into my truck. Ironically, we were at a stop light and no cars were moving, the guy just drove his car right into my truck as if he was turning left.
To be honest, the first thought that came to my mind was “ you f….ing idiot” and I had this jolt of anger; I really wanted to get out of my truck and punch the guy in the face a few times. I was so annoyed because i knew my evening was ruined.
Since we were in the middle of one of the busiest roads in Dubai, we had to pull over on a side street to call the police and wait until they showed up (protocol in Dubai for any type of accident).
When I got out of my truck I expected an apology or at the very least some type of remorse from the man who hit me, but the guy, a man from India said in a thick accent, “why you ran into me..” [sic] I wasn’t even moving when the crash happened (I was stopped at a red light) when this guy hit me; his ridiculous lie nearly made me lose my temper.
For the past several months, more so than ever before in my life, I have focused on being positive and thinking positive thoughts whenever I face anything negative – and this focus on positivity and trying not to think anything negative about anyone or anything has had a big “positive” impact on many things in my life. Rather than losing my temper, I just closed my eyes for a few seconds until I felt more positive.
So we are standing around in the heat (I am in a 3 piece suit) waiting for the police to arrive to do the report and I cannot leave until that happens.
Luckily, my assistant Tom was nearby so he came to help me.
When Tom arrived, the man who hit my car became very emotional and began to cry.
He explained in his broken English that it’s a company car that has a 1,200 aed ($330) deductible for any accident and how he can’t afford this payment or the police fine he will get for causing the accident.
Tom told him in a very stern tone that this will teach him a lesson to be more careful next time and we all just stood around waiting for the Police.
Finally, two hours later an Emirati policeman arrived and was very warm and friendly towards me. Given that I was a big friendly American business man dressed in a 3 piece suit compared to the cold, taciturn very nervous man who obviously had caused the accident it was likely evident to the officer who the culprit was hence his attitude towards me.
Rather than validate the officer’s suspicions, I instead began to think about how much this young man was going to lose from the accident and then about how truly blessed my life has been and how much I have been given – of course, he loses much more than me.
Instantly, without having to think any further, I decided to take the blame and responsibility for the accident.
After speaking with the police, I got back into my air conditioned truck and waited for the report to be done.
The Police officer pulled Tom aside and asked him “why is your boss saying it’s his fault when it is clear that he is not responsible?” Tom explained it’s because the young man will be negatively impacted too much compared to me and how I didn’t want the guy to get into any trouble.
The officer then came over to my truck window, shook my hand and told me I was a good man when i reconfirmed that I accepted the fine for causing the accident. Although it’s the first accident I have had in Dubai, my insurance premiums will likely go up next year — but this really is negligible in the grand scheme. At least the guy from India isn’t going to get into trouble.
Even now, a week later I don’t regret accepting the blame.
The next afternoon, around noon (probably the hottest time of the day) I was driving home on one of the busiest highways in Dubai and saw a worker on the side of the road hitchhiking.
If I am not busy, I will always stop and pick up a hitchhiker in Dubai, especially when it’s very hot outside.
The hitchhiker was from Pakistan did not speak a single word of English yet he smiled when he got in the truck and motioned with his hand for me to drive straight.
He offered several times to stop and get out because we had driven a long way but I told him by motioning with my hand that I would keep going.
We did not speak a word during the entire drive, but the man was very warm and friendly, and obviously appreciated the ride.
After 45 minutes of driving we arrived at his labor camp where he lives.
He was very appreciative for the ride and to my surprise, as he was getting out of the truck, he attempted to hand me 5 aed (about $1 dollar and 50 cents).
I refused the money, but he left it on the seat as he got out of my truck and shut the door.
Shocked I honked my horn, rolled down my window, called him over to me and forced him to take his money back.
I then tried to hand him 50 aed (about $14 – foreign laborers are generally under paid in Dubai and I genuinely feel a sense of sadness when I reflect on their lives) but when i did he emphatically refused the cash. He pushed it back in my hand, smiled, shook his head “NO”, turned and walked away.
I was very surprised to say the least.
I began to drive away, but I remembered an envelope I had in my bag with a 500 dirham note ($136) in it that I had set aside for some personal items I had intended to buy.
I honked the horn, and motioned him to come back to the truck (by now he was far away so it took a minute to reach the truck)
As he was walking towards me, I put the 50 dirham’s into the envelope with the 500 dirham note and sealed the envelope. I honked again
Once the man reached my window, I handed him the white envelope which he instinctively took in his hand.
I smiled, rolled up my window and drove away.
Because I was about an hour from my home, I got to enjoy another cigar on the drive and over that cigar I reflected on how much better it is to be positive and generous than it is to be negative and cold.
And as i drove, I thought about doing this blog, but I decided not to write it because it will come across too self righteous: “hey look how generous I am” … or “look how I am nice guy” etc. I am aware that this blog does sound self serving…
But this past week, both in my personal and business world, many unexpected very positive things happened.
Would my week have been as great (both personal and in business) had I not accepted the blame for an accident that I didn’t cause?
Would my week have been as great (both personal and in business) had I not given a stranger money?
Thinking about that isn’t interesting for me.
I didn’t do either of those things because I hoped for some kind of return.
I did them because (for me) it feels much better to focus on being positive and generous.
The power of positivity…
Try it …. this week (if or when) you face a terrible situation or have to deal with something negative, instead of focusing on the negative, focus on remaining positive.