“Be kind to everyone. For we are all fighting a great battle. We really only get to see two percent of each other. Our true full selves (and what we are going through) are so beneath the surface.” -Tom Peter
This week’s factor to living fabulously fierce sounds so simple and yet, in our day-to-day, we sometime actually have to search for acts of kindness to witness. From simple things of holding the door for someone to buying a cup of coffee for someone behind you at Starbucks to the huge acts of kindness we hear about that make the news, I feel like if we all took just a little of bit of time to just be kind to even just one person, we’d be amazed at the ripple effect and our impact.
When I heard Tom Peters speak the words above at a Bentley Leadership Conference a few years back, what really hit me the most was that we are all fighting a great battle. Now it’s all relative right? What I’m going through may not seem great to someone else but it’s my battle and it’s pretty heavy to me. Friends come to me all the time with things that they’re worried about and stressed about and they know me, so they know that my first reaction might be, “really, that’s what you’re worried about?” And we actually laugh because I just always try to put things into perspective but here’s the reality, the thing they’re worried about is great for them and while sometimes being annoyingly optimistic or positive, my real job as their friend is simply to be kind.
So of course we need to boil this down to figure out what it really means. I think there are three “big” buckets of kindness that we can consider:
- The kindness act of just being there: Sometimes those closest to us really want nothing more than for us to just be there. Our very presence is just enough kindness to help them get trough whatever is challenging them. Just last year, a coworker came into my office and just sat down while I was really deep into a project. I looked up and she just looked at me. I said, “um, are you ok?” She said “oh yeah, don’t mind me, (really, I thought) I just got a call from home and I can’t deal so I just needed to get out of my office to a peaceful place with a peaceful person and yours is the only office I know of and you’re the nicest person I know here, so seriously pretend I’m not even here.” Now you know good and well I couldn’t pretend she wasn’t there…so we ended up chatting for a good thirty minutes. I still have no idea what the issue she was dealing with was…I didn’t need to. I gave her what she needed…I felt like she walked out a little lighter on her feet than she was when she came in. That was just the kindness she needed. Cost me nothing but a little bit of time.
- The kindness act of making an offering: During this time of the year, the holiday season, we are put on notice of all the charities we can give to for the holidays, the families we can adopt and the like. This is all fabulous…Cradles to Crayons and Toys for Tots happen to be personal favorites for me. The thing to keep in mind is that while we focus on these types of offerings once a year, we can make offerings all year round. As I was thinking about what I was going to post this week, I had to also reflect on whether or not I’m really practicing what I’m preaching. I try to do so, but I can always be better. So I happened to be at Starbucks (yes, I’m officially an addict) and when I put my order in, I turned to the woman behind me and said “and what might you let me treat you to today?” She looked at me STUNNED and said “are you sure?” I told her, “More than you know, I don’t get fancy here so I just have a simple coffee but it’s breakfast time, what are you craving?” She just beamed from ear to ear and said thank you. Then….ready…wait for it…she looked at the card in her hand and said, I have this gift card with a bit on it, something tells me you won’t take it, so…” She then turned around and gave it to a younger women, she looked to be college-aged, behind her. RIPPPLE WHAT?!?!?! It’s December….but, that’s not the criteria for doing something like this. I plan to stun someone more regularly…..we’ll see what happens in January!
- The kindness act of sharing your own story: I’ve learned that sometimes, folks look at me and think that I’ve got everything together…which is sooooooooooo hilarious to me. Just last year, my sister was really going through some tough stuff and we talked about it. As I tried to talk her….ok, I admit, I was coaching her…through it, she looked at me and said, “Yeah, but Farah you have it all together.” All I could say to her, was “who in the world told you that.” I realized she needed me to open my book a little more for her to understand that we all go through stuff and it really doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that we actually go through….don’t just stall and sit in what you’re going through….just keep going….and that’s how you keep it all together. Sometimes, the act of just letting someone know that they’re not alone in their life experience or the only one going through something is just the level of kindness they need to get back in the game
So, as you think about all of this, I really encourage you think about something you can do this week to exhibit some kindness to some unsuspecting vessel. Add to the ripple! I promise, it doesn’t take much and what you get in return is a sense of being pretty fierce…because we are!
Soundtrack of the week: Being Kind. Looks like someone had a fabulous idea to get the kindness ripple going a while back. Game for kicking it back up with me? Let me know what your act of kindness this week will be.