Marica's meanderings

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kindness - is it outdated?

No act of kindness,
no matter how small,
is ever wasted.
Aesop

We have had a lot of people leaving my workplace in the last few months. Farewell events have become commonplace. Today I attended a farewell which really moved me. The person who was leaving began by explaining how he came to the decision that he needed to move on to another job.

It all began last July when he was sent by work on an 8 day Outward Bound course with the purpose of evaluating it in terms of its potential for leadership training and other such things. He set off with work in mind but very quickly that dimmed into the background as the reality of what he was going through took hold. He described his experience as a life changing event. I stood there thinking - how can I get this for myself. I want this too. I am confused and I am struggling. This might help me.

I listened to every word this man had to say. I connected with what he was saying. I saw before me a compassionate person who was open to challenging himself and acting on what he discovered. He was supportive of colleagues. He respected everyone and was respected himself by many. He was interesting. He had a sense of humour. He was genuine. His final words to those present were "Be kind to each other".

Why was I so surprised? Here was someone in a senior management position talking about kindness. We work in tense and challenging environments. Kindness is not a regular part of the workplace vocabulary today. Being kind is not a priority for many. It has become outdated as we focus on self-interest and organisational needs, and let's be frank, survival! Generally, in our modern business oriented world many consider kindness as a weakness. Many are consumed by "what's in it for me". How many people think about "what's in it for us" or "what's in it for them" or even "is there something I can do to make it better or easier for someone else"?

The words "Be kind to each other" have been going round and round in my head.

Kindness...Pass it on!What is kindness? I Googled this question. I discovered kindness was "the quality of being warmhearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic", amongst other things.

The next item to show up in my search was the The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.10 ideas for kindness This foundation has the mission of inspiring people to practice kindness and to "pass it on" to others. They provide a wealth of resources especially targeted for educational and community use.

As I delved further I discovered there is a worldwide movement known as the World Kindness Movement and New Zealand is a member country.

Life's most urgent question is, what are you doing for others?
Martin Luther King, Jr

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
Kahlil Gibran

I am grateful to my former colleague who articulated such a simple message and a simple wish. I hope those that were present heard it and live it. We always need more kindness as we all individually meet the challenges that confront us on a daily basis.

Be the change you want to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

I'd like to challenge anyone reading this blog to take a minute and think about how they express kindness - to others and also to themselves. If all the trappings of modern life were stripped away from you, what would you have left?

Does any of this matter?

It does to me. Life experience has taught me that everything can disappear in a flash, and I mean everything! What I value more than anything else in life are the people in my life. Being kind to others is not hard.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (August 26, 1910 - September 5,1997)

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It never was between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

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