You never know whose life you are going to change for the better. You may never hear about the impact your simple acts of kindness have on other people. In the absence of feedback you may start to wonder if it really makes a difference. I’m here to tell you that it does. And that you must keep doing it – helping people every day in small and big ways. The positive energy you share works and your acts of kindness are hugely valuable. Let me share just one recent example from my own life.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
The Cancer Connection
Since having ovarian cancer in 2011, I have had the opportunity to connect with people who I likely would never have come into contact with if not for the cancer connection. Some were newly diagnosed with cancer, others were caregivers, friends or family members of people struggling with cancer. Knowing that everyone’s cancer journey is a unique one, I shared what wisdom and inspiration that I could, always being mindful of not being too prescriptive.
Sometimes all I can do is listen, empathize, and be fully present. Other times, I suggest books and resources that supported me through my cancer journey. And when I can, I spend time with them on the phone or in person, just to let them know that they are not alone.
It is my core belief that one should never go it alone when facing cancer, life-threatening illnesses, or adversity. I have found that sharing the burden with friends and people who care about you will help you heal faster and more completely.
Now that I am recovered from cancer (going on 8 years survived!) I feel it is my duty and privilege to help others who are just beginning their journey cancer. And it was with that intention that I made myself available to a professional contact named Rhonda about three years ago.
As with many of these encounters, you help out the best you can, and then you must let go. They take it from there. It’s their journey. But imagine my surprise when I received an email in my inbox last week from Rhonda expressing her gratitude and letting me know how it impacted her life.
I Hope You Know What an Impact You Made
With Rhonda’s permission, I share the contents of her email. Just imagine how I felt reading her email.
“Hello, My Dear Lady. I was just thinking about you this week, as you saved my sister’s life. After she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she went on the Kris Carr program, thanks to your recommended reading. Now, three years later, she is going strong after metastasized cancer. It is the greatest gift you could have given us, Kathy. I hope you know what an impact you made, and I will certainly pass your recommended reading onto others. Love you! – Rhonda”
“Kindness is not an act, it’s a lifestyle.”
– Anthony Douglas Williams, co-author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Rhonda’s email motivated me so much that I made the decision to speak more publicly about my experience with ovarian cancer. And to publish a book Alive and Kicking Cancer (working title). I want to multiply the positive impact that I had on Rhonda and her sister to more and more people. And not for myself, but for them. It’s about giving back and paying it forward. It is an act of kindness that I can do easily and naturally.
Maybe It’s Not Random
Which got me thinking about the common expression, “Random Acts of Kindness.” I always loved that idea and how it gave us permission to do good things even if they were small, unexpected, and anonymous. But what if kindness wasn’t a random act, but a strategic one. What if kindness was more intentional and not so happenstance? What if kindness was a highly valued trait in society, like the association we make with people who are strong, powerful, and successful? What if kindness was an essential quality of leadership, integrity, and professionalism? The workplace and the world would feel like a very different (and more enjoyable) place to be.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Making Kindness Intentional
This week I invite you to consider adding kindness to your personal leadership brand. Make kindness part of how you want to be known professionally and personally. Consider what types of behaviors, actions and attitudes might be required of you to live up to that kindness standard.
Twenty-One Kindness Salute
Here are twenty one ideas to practice kindness. Which one(s) could you commit to?
- Listening with compassion to your colleagues, clients, and family members.
- Being fully present when you are in the presence of other people. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by your digital device.
- Donating generously and volunteering your time to charitable causes (and not just for the tax deduction, but because it is a kind thing to do).
- Generously tipping people who are in the service industry and may not be earning living wages like you are (including hotel housekeeping staff, wait staff professionals, waste removal professionals, home health care workers, etc.).
- Making the time to network with people who are in job transition and need your advice and connections.
- Mentoring others who are early in their careers and might benefit from your wisdom and connections.
- Standing up to racism, hatred, and bullies in the workplace. Protect those who are vulnerable or being harassed by more powerful people.
- Use social media responsibly. Do not share or forward mean-spirited, inflammatory, or misleading messages.
- Spend some quality time with senior citizens, being patient and allowing them to share their life stories (even if you’ve heard them before).
- Value diversity and practice inclusion in your workplace, community, country, and world.
- Smiling, making eye contact, and having conversations with homeless people, helping them feel visible and valued.
- Sharing your resources with people who need them (books, articles, connections, ideas).
- Bringing a meal and visiting someone who is sick or going through bereavement.
- Suspending judgement and not shaming people who have made mistakes.
- Forgiving people who have wronged you in the past, present or future.
- Signing up to drive patients to their medical appointments.
- Serving on the board of directors of a nonprofit who mission aligns with your values.
- Helping your neighbor with gardening chores, sharing tools and resources.
- Ask about someone else’s needs before you demand for your needs to be met.
- Be kind, respectful and considerate to customer service agents (phone or in person) who really are trying to help you.
- Letting people know what a big difference you have made in their lives, like Rhonda did for me!
Kindly Share Your Ideas
Do you have other ideas or examples of how we can behave your way into a lifestyle of KINDNESS? Please share them here by leaving your comments on this blog or on my Facebook page