Kindness has been cropping up in a lot of conversations I've been having recently. As a coach one of the common questions I find myself asking clients is "What would your kind self say?", often in connection with things they feel they should be doing. In leadership discussions we've been talking about the difference between kindness and being nice - they are worlds apart. And then what about random acts of kindness?
Everyone can choose to be kind. You can do it for the thanks, but that would be missing the point. Kindness is not about recognition, its about the positive feelings it generates, both for the recipient and for you. If you want some great ideas and inspiring stories then head over to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation or join them and become a RAKtivist!
There are many ways to be kind. When I think back to some of the truly random acts I've done, that I still feel good about, they are often quite small, and almost all things I haven't told anyone else about. They weren't about being seen to be kind, they were about being kind. They were about doing the right thing, simply because it was the right thing to do. If you've never tried it, go out and give it a try.
When you drop a pebble in the pond, you can't know where the ripples will end. Kindness is the same, you may never know how that is paid forward, and how many lives, in how many ways, are impacted as a result. One of the pleasures I find time for is mentoring. Sometimes in the workplace, sometimes undergraduates at university, all sorts of people. Often you see positive changes at the time, but some of the most wonderful mentoring relationships are those where you know that you were a very small part of a key moment in time, where those conversations opened up new choices in the direction that person took. And over the years you see how they grow and succeed.
I've been talking to another leader about a workshop I'm going to facilitate, and how important it is that in the workplace we are able to speak words that are both true and kind. So many people mistake being nice for being kind, and the two couldn't be more different. People who are being nice, are quite often avoiding speaking truthfully, mistakenly believing it will avoid conflict. People rarely want to fail, and once you recognise that whatever differences of opinion you have with someone in the team, you are quite probably both working towards the same goal, then the important thing to do is to speak the truth, kindly. Not because you expect them to do the same, but because it is the right thing to do. And leadership is about being the change you want to see.
If you want to start making some real progress in your leadership then first of all start practicing being kind, so that it is an embedded behaviour as you also ensure you spend more time saying some of the things you know need to be said, but have been avoiding saying. If you are good at giving yourself a hard time, ask yourself - what would your kind self say? Random acts of kindness can apply to yourself as well as others. And if you want to explore any of these issues through a coaching conversation get in touch