The Garbage Collector with The Brain Tattoo

I’ve never held myself out to be any kind of a guru. The first chapter of The Greatness Guide explains just that. I’m just an ordinary guy doing my best to help people Lead Without a Title and step into the power they were born with – but may have forgotten. But once in a while, I do get it all right. An example.

One morning I was working at home rather than at our office as I needed to go into some deep creative work and that’s a place that allows me to get the job done. I heard a loud noise that caused me to stop and I ran to the window to see what happened. The man who collects the garbage was picking up what seemed to be a thousand pieces that had fallen into the street. Something had happened to the truck’s hydraulic system and all the garbage had fallen out. It wasn’t a pretty scene.

I quickly rushed out to make sure he was ok and asked if I could help. He said he was fine but I could tell he was upset. Who wouldn’t be? I then asked him if he liked coffee. He said: “of course.”

I’d just returned from a series of leadership presentations to high-potential managers in Latin America and in my fridge was a few fresh bags of beautiful coffee that I’d brought home with me. I grabbed one and then headed back out to the garbage collector, presenting it to him and saying: “I really appreciate everything you do and I hope this makes you feel a little better. Thanks a lot.” He smiled. And then got back to work.

Well something very special now happens every week, on trash collection day. My blue box not only gets emptied – it gets walked up to my home and is neatly placed in a certain corner. You may say that’s a small thing but it happens rain or snow, Spring or Fall. It’s the man I met’s gesture of thanks. For my small and simple act of kindness. And it puts a smile on my face every time.

Here’s the leadership idea I’m doing my best to convey: small acts of support/encouragement/kindness tattoo themselves onto the brain cells of those who receive them. In this world of overflowing technology, people ache for instances of humanity. And the Leaders Who Have No Titles that do them, are the people who win.

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35 Responses to “The Garbage Collector with The Brain Tattoo”

  1. Sumit says:

    Great thoughts, small daily acts of leadership turns oneself into a leader without title. Keep doing the good job. And thank you for writing the great blogs,vlogs,articles,books and also for opening the community successnation.

  2. Harshi says:

    Reading that got tears to my eyes..
    I would be touched very very deeply if I were the garbage man. Robin, thank you so much for sharing that. It’s wonderful to see how you went out of your way. A great example for all of us to step out and make another’s life easier.

  3. Anand Wagh says:

    Fantastic insight, Little acts of kindness bundles up to be a source of great joy.
    Love your work Robin ji.
    Would love to have coffee with you once this life time.
    Best regards,

    Anand Wagh

  4. Vani says:


  5. Sahitya says:

    Awesome.I agree that small acts of kindness mean a lot in todays world.Take care Robin.

  6. Joy McCarthy says:

    Love it. We can all learn from this. These kinds of acts make the world a more loving happy place. Thanks for inspiring me to do something nice for someone else today!

  7. This is a powerful story because it proves that the act of giving for the sake of giving can travel the world, as it always comes back to the catalyst of this phenomenon. If everyone took the time to be 5% more conscious to the people in their lives, I firmly believe that our universe would function in an entirely different way. Therefore, it is the obligation of the “givers” to share these stories with the masses because you never know whose life will be impacted once they are introduced to an entirely new philosophy and way of life…great share Robin and please check out my website because you have been a inspiration in my life!

  8. Saurabh says:

    i totally agree to u on the point that a small act of kindness and help will leave the mark on the receiver side but, i think i would like to know from u that, this incident having a happy ending at both the site the person who receives your help is also satisfy because of your behavior and visa a versa u are too from his response behavior, but lots of time u didn’t receive a positive and response from the receiver party. we are satisfied with our behavior but the response will hurt us in this case how can we solve this kind of issue in our mind. i understand that we have to make our mind positive at giving part not at receiving part.but my questions is how many times we have to go with this attitude if we receive this response every time.

  9. Manpreet says:

    Robin, you are making me crazy !!

    Everyday now, i am hooked up to your books.They are making me a better person everyday.You won’t believe, my life is changing.I can experience it.Certainly, the little acts of kindness makes a person a leader without title.

    All thanks to you Robin.I am a changed person today.Your idea of “under promising and over delivering” has got inscribed in my mind.It works.It really works !! Thank you !!

  10. Naveen says:

    A good insight and its applicable for me, will keep that in mind.

    Thanks Robin.

  11. Ben Biggs says:


    This is just great. Thank you for being a champion of the leader without title. I get so jaded by flashy solutions and hyped up ideas. A leader is built by the little actions that affect one or two, not only by big wins that happen once in a lifetime. In my opinion, it’s the little wins that are the big wins and we need to change how we think about “success”.

  12. Marie says:

    Interesting story. Garbage, coffee, creative writing, satisfied city worker and a blue box all add up to a very interesting story. Nice to read that you cared about the “mess” that the was dealing with. Just wondering how that translates to you saying people don’t care if we get to work with a cold or had a bad night with the baby. You just showed – people care AND can do their job all at the same time. It’s all our life – one life, one job, one family, one day, one act of kindness, one piece of celery for lunch, one traffic etc. that is our tapestry. Coffee at work and coffee at home – it’s still coffee. Sorry – just wish there wasn’t so much separation between all these pieces. I just want to be me no matter where I am and who I am with – simple me. I get not much of what I wrote makes sense. A coffee would be nice right now. :) Thks.

  13. Aditya Salunke says:

    Hey robin,
    We all knew that your “audio is aligned with your video”. :)

    May the infinite intelligence be with you.Always.

  14. Ani says:

    such a nice story. Any act of kindness is never lost. It always gets beck to you in different form and makes you smile :)

  15. Viswanath says:

    Hi robin

    its super. it is also one in love affection. with love and affection everything is possible


  16. Lok how Yuan says:

    Impressive simple story.It is this sort of little kindness and care that is always touching deep into people’s heart. People will never forget this act of kind concern. People need kindness.

  17. Shankar says:

    Please believe me – the same thing is the case with the garbage collector here. Sometimes I pass on my shirts to him or my wife gives him a fruit. I have seen him put back the garbage bin carefully as if it’s made of glass!.
    Shankar, India

  18. Abraham Cletus Muma says:

    This is great when to make tatoos of exellence on others’ brains.

  19. Two great stories in the span of 408 simple words.

    One about your small act of kindness with the garbage collector and the other your small act of kindness of sharing this story with us so we could see what a difference the small acts make in a person’s life

    We all do little things everyday and move on to the next task. I would like to ask each of us to savor the little things and share them in a humble effort to encourage others to make a small difference.

  20. Aneetha says:

    Reminder of Acts of Kindness is so necessary these days. We are consumed with rushing everywhere and lists, lists and more lists to get done. Days of technology nice to have a human touch. Sweet Robin. Thanks. :-D

  21. Ravinder Kumar says:


    I will not say anything about the act but I will keep on doing such acts whenever I get such chances.

  22. Mahesh says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Robin

  23. Mari says:

    Thanks Robin for alll the great guidance – as a hungry soul seeking that, trying replete what gets lost interacting in the bully-ish corporate world!!

    Reading the tatoo article, I am tempted to give feedback since that was what stood out:

    That moment when the garbage was strewn around and you go to ask the trash service man if he is ok… your actual challenge given was to help him by picking the trash along with him. Asking if he is ok and giving him expensive coffee was just a materialistic, to-feel-good-for-myself deed. That was not a random act of kindness. It would have been your ‘Gandhi moment’ if you read his autobiography, see when Gandhiji cleans the community toilets and latrines.

    Why not go out and meet him again in one of his rounds to your street and chat with him- he seems to be up there in greatness too to keep doing this act of kind thankfulness to you.

    I am so happy to have come across your articles on FB and thank you so much for your illuminating work. You are specially blessed since you are able to help the rest of us. Peace and LOve.

  24. Suman says:

    Again a wonderful piece Sir!! Truly said !! Spreading a smile has its own reward! Thank you for your beautiful lessons! You are doing a a great job of sharing your experiences with others thus serving the society as a whole..!!

  25. This world has become too worshipful of the dollar and relationships
    forgotten. Your act of kindness is rare so thanks for being.there.

  26. arundeshpande says:

    Hello Robin,
    It is wonderful thing you did. I would like to share my experience with you. I was travelling in a train in India in nd AC compartment. At about 9 at night an old couple entered the comprtment. They had been alloted 2 births opposite to my birth. As they were tired they slept by sitting on their seats. Blankets and bedsheets were not supplied till that time. after 15 minutes bedsheets were supplied. I prepared their beds and asked them to sleep. Next day iwas duscussing with him how my father was relegious and what powers he had. Then he told me how he cured his strong daibetes with prayers. Do you know what I got in return of the act of making their bed? I had a very strong lumber spondilosis and my doctor had adviced me not ot lift 2 kg of weight and not to sit on the floor. To my surprise I was comletely cured and can lift 15 kg and can sit on the floor for a long time. My age is 68 now.

  27. Dehan Seneviratne says:

    Dear Robin,
    This is fantastic. Little acts of kindness gives so much of happiness to others in an unbelieveable way. These go to make life long impressions and life long relationships.
    Thanks a heap.
    Dehan Seneviratne- Sri Lanka

  28. vikram says:

    I really appreciate the way you tell the little stories,which has big impacts on our day to day life.
    It is really helpful to us …..i have learnt lot of things from your books and blogs.

    following sentence i am applying and getting advantage of it


    Thank you once again

  29. Smruti says:

    I am loving the way you presented it .. Great innovation from your end for all of us …Thank you

  30. Sonali says:

    Very true. happened with me too. It’s terribly humbling how little acts of kindness can multiply and make u feel like a star.

  31. deepal says:

    thanks robin ……………….. with very grate thought ,and from today i will thanks to evey one and do something for them to make them happy .

  32. Chandan Jha says:

    Awesome sir,
    As you often say- anyone can lead without title and its true example of leadership without a title. you have changed someone today.
    Chandan Jha, Bihar(India)

  33. Ramesh says:

    It is too simple that gives more clarity on how we can make others comfortable, which in turn makes us “FEEL Good”.

    Thanks Robin.. I would be feeling so great, if i get an opportunity to have a cup of coffee with you..

    I really admire about your insights.. and deeper understanding of human values…

  34. rahul says:

    Great article teaching me that character starts from kindness for small things surrounding you like family friends, society, community, nation.Once a phycologist said One can provide anyone with food, clothes, shelter but the most important and great is you show somebody appreciation that’s what I learned from this blog.This wisdom is one of my memorable quote everyday.

  35. Hjjko says:

    Wonderful story

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