THE BLOG
01/22/2015 03:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Best Smile in Portland, Oregon

Have you ever noticed how life can get dull after the holidays?

As we begin the New Year tradition of self-improvement and reflection, moments of generosity and connection sometimes seem to go by the wayside.

To combat this situation, Allison Clarke, an expert in leadership and influence, developed a plan to keep good cheer in motion throughout the winter months. With over 20 years in corporate training, Allison is known for her memorable (and wacky) stunts that are designed to bring out the best in herself and others.

On December 1, 2014, she launched a 90-Day Kindness Challenge. Each day, she is finding a way to acknowledge someone with a random act of kindness.

I contacted Allison on her 50th day to see how the challenge is going. She remarked how creative this pursuit has been and how it has forced her to evaluate what behaviors call for recognition.

Here are some highlights from Allison's 90-Day Kindness Challenge so far. She:

1. Hung a wreath on a port-a-potty.
2. Made a certificate for "Best Parked Car" and left it on a windshield downtown.
3. Gave a Power Ranger to the guy at the gym who was working out the hardest.
4. Left a note and Pez candy to thank the mail delivery person.
5. Gave a 15-year-old boy an eyeball toy for making good eye contact with adults.
6. Found the "Best Smile" in Portland and gave him the award.
7. Bought white tulips and gave them to a woman sitting alone at a coffee shop.

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If the person she's honoring is present, she approaches with a smile, tells them about the challenge, gives them their prize and asks permission to take a photo. Allison says, "The reactions have been priceless: misty eyes, hearty laughs and sincere appreciation."

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She adds:

I've been reminded once again how we have no idea what someone is going through when they're driving to work, shopping for groceries, or rushing through the airport. Having fun with people and bringing a smile to their face when they least expect it is one of the most profound gifts we can give.

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Allison's challenge benefits the giver as well as the receiver. Givers start to recognize what's good about each day and they learn how to verbally acknowledge it. I can't think of a better way to get rid of the gloomy weather blues!

Acts of kindness can be almost effortless. A sincere smile, an overdue phone call, or a handwritten thank-you note can shift the mood of a day. It can be the extra touch that secures a new client or sparks an opportunity.

It also puts us in a role to lead and inspire others--all year long!