Word-Of-the-Week #855: Kind

December 24, 2020 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #855: Kind 

Kind – having or showing a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warm-hearted nature.

When was the last time you experienced a random act of kindness? How considerate are you of others? How willing are you to help someone without expecting anything in return?

This week brings another wonderful piece from Neil Senturia’s UT article, “Be kind, and put in the effort to be there for others.

“It’s getting to be the time of year when old times should be forgotten. If I had my way, that would include burying them. We are coming to the end of 2020. Of course, one dilemma with coming to the end of something is the realization that a couple days later, it starts all over again. You are never really outta here until the pine box shows up. 

Still, I am good with taking a short breath and seeking leadership and guidance on how exactly to navigate these waters. To that end, I turned to Professor Boris Groysberg, Harvard Business School. His advice starts with a quote from Henry James, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.” Henry does have a way with words, doesn’t he? 

Next, Groysberg lists the challenges we all face. Parenting, remote work, home schooling, isolation from loved ones, special needs children, caretakers, health care workers, financial strains, zoom and doom — there is not enough newsprint available to list them all. But in the end Groysberg decides that “the fundamental leadership strategy is the most innately human one: Be kind.”

Sounds simple, no? We all think we are. But when we look in the mirror, for sure we see some cracks. The techniques he suggests are reassurance (no, Bob, you are not going to lose your job, we can make it together), compassionate listening (yes, I can take some time to really listen to your concerns without interrupting you and making notes on my phone and thinking about my next meeting) and a “conscious effort to validate people’s fear and confusion”, (I know that you are afraid. That is perfectly rational at this time, but let’s trust together that the company will survive, and you will too.) 

A survey of psychiatrists (I asked mine) shows that more than 42 percent of their new cases are associated with “these times we are living in.” See, the good news is that it is perfectly rational to be terrified and neurotic (finally the justification I have been seeking). 

Now, let’s take the other side of the coin. Groysberg is asking the CEO to exhibit all those kind behaviors, while at the same time navigating the tsunami of crap coming down on his head, financial pain, market woes, customers bailing out. This standing in the other guy’s shoes is not so easy — high heels, flats, wingtips or flip- flops. So, the practice of kindness cuts both ways. 

Ritchie Davidson, University of Wisconsin, says “Kindness is teachable. Practicing compassion can be compared to weight training.” It is not a weakness to be empathetic. Groysberg goes on, “Kindness is contagious as well as calming.” My assistant of 28 years, Ms. Rockstead, has a phrase for me when I am bouncing off the wall, “Breathe. Just breathe.” 

And of course, it is yoga that focuses a lot of its training on breathing. And breathing leads to calm and calm leads to reflection and the ability to see outside yourself, and finally by extension kindness is contagious. The Mayo Clinic says that “acts of kindness activate a part of our brain that releases oxytocin that makes us feel pleasure” and then in the workplace, this translates to improved morale and performance. 

Philo of Alexandria, 20 B.C., (I did a startup with him) says, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” Groysberg offers a few concrete thoughts on how to practice kindness. 

“I hear you.” Make space for your employee to speak safely. Be present, don’t judge. Just listen. (This is good advice for marriages, as well). 

“Are you OK?” Be willing to provide comfort. Tell Betty it is OK to leave early to just get some extra rest. 

“What can we do to help?” Even if you can’t really help, be a sounding board. Tell her that you know she is doing the best she can. 

And finally, “I’m there for you.” (Feels like Groysberg might have lifted that from my first book.) Be available and in the moment. 

But the fishhook is that you can’t just say the words. You need to really be there, baby. And that is the hard work.” 

Rule No. 687: I hear you.

This week’s focus is on being kind. Do you feel and show empathy for others? Are you a good listener? Are you there for your friends, family or co-workers when they are in need of help or support?

And here’s to having some FUN & Happy Holidays!

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Word-Of-the-Week #648: Kind

January 5, 2017 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #648: Kind 

Kind – helpful to others; considerate.

When was the last time you experienced a random act of kindness? How considerate are you of others? How willing are you to help someone without expecting anything in return?

This week The Parade Magazine’s article, “Let’s make 2017 the Year of Being Kind seemed like a great way to start the new year. Paula Spencer Scott writes, “Whoa.” That might be said by anyone who’s spent time lately on social media, behind the wheel or even ’round some holiday tables. Seems like we’re in a bit of a kindness crisis these days.

In fact, only 25 percent of Americans believe we’re living in a kind society, according to a poll by Kindness USA. More than half said kindness has deteriorated in the past 10 years. Kids are bummed too: In a Making Caring Common survey of 10,000 teens, 4 in 5 said their parents are more concerned with achievement or happiness than caring for others.

“There is less kindness in public life, which trickles down and invites people to be less kind in our personal lives,” says psychologist Harriet Lerner, author of Why Won’t You Apologize? (available Jan. 10). “But kindness is not an ‘extra.’ It’s at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others.”

Please join Parade in scratching the surface to encourage a groundswell of goodwill in 2017. We believe that kindness is contagious and good for us—and that inspiring consequences really do spiral when we do simple, compassionate acts for others without expecting anything back. That’s why we’re celebrating some of the people, companies, organizations and communities who are working to make America kind again.

Not surprisingly, kindness is seen as key to anti-bullying programs too. Among the standouts: the Girl Scouts of the USA’s popular Be a Friend First program, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the Kind Campaign, founded by two Pepperdine University grads, whose school assemblies, kind clubs and camps target girl-against-girl bullying.

Kindness is a value that transcends borders, race, faith and age. Orly Wahba founded a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring kindness after growing up as “that kid in black who sat writing morbid poetry” and working as a middle-school teacher. Life Vest Inside’s first effort, a video called “Kindness Boomerang,” has been seen more than 100 million times and led to her 2013 TED Talk on the magic of kindness.

“Whether you’re sweeping the streets, running the company or running the country, we’re all pieces of the puzzle, each as important as the other,” says Wahba, now CEO of Kindness USA. “Kindness is the tool to breaking down labels and barriers and seeing we’re all exactly the same. In a world that sometimes shows you bad, kindness shows you so much good.”

So here’s to a year of doing kindness and living kindness. It’s easy, it’s free, it feels good—and it really makes a difference.

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