As I listen to the news this weekend, I’m juggling an oxymoron in my head; how critical we are as a race but also how we all pull together in adversity. Although I didn’t watch many of the shows that Caroline Flack hosted, having read the articles and listened to a number of radio shows, I realise what a talented and incredibly ‘well thought of’ presenter, she was. With so much love and respect for her work, isn’t it so sad that the voices that resonated inside her head, were those of criticism, leading her to commit suicide? I wonder what it is that makes people knock those who are successful? Is it because they don’t have the courage in their own dreams to make it happen for themselves that they lash out at others? It takes such courage to follow your aspirations, take those first steps, be resilient and pick yourself up when things don’t go right first time and keep reinventing yourself as your comfort zones grow. However, it’s also easy to allow self-doubt to take over when the going gets tough, but when we have supportive and kind people around us, it really does help us to see life from a different perspective.
We are so conditioned to be liked by everyone, that it’s easy to let others feedback affect how we feel about ourselves and knock our confidence. Interestingly, when we were talking about feedback this week in one of my workshops, we all agreed that we have choices as to whether to accept feedback or not. For example, what if someone gives us feedback who we clearly don’t respect or feel that they don’t have our best interests at heart? Would we let their feedback affect us? It’s quite easy to say no, of course not, but if we don’t have positive self-esteem, we can start wondering if those people have a point and start to let it fester and get the better of us. And this is when we need our trusted support system around us. Those who we know have our back, will tell us how it is because they want us to grow and reach our potential, not knock us down and make us feel unworthy.
And then there’s the other story in the news; the impact of Storm Dennis across the UK and how communities are pulling together to help one another in their hours of devastation. Homes and businesses flooded, riverbanks breaking are all things we hope we’ll never have to experience, but there are some communities that are doing just that, not once, but multiple times over the last five or six years. These communities now have their own disaster recovery plans in place with helplines open asking for essentials, others setting up food and shelter to provide those affected with the strength to carry on. When the devastation is so tangible, does that give people more of a sense of duty out of empathy to help? Is seeing someone’s home flooded and the havoc it’s wreaking easier to provide tangible aid, whereas helping someone with their mindset is so much more difficult? If you’ve never suffered from depression, is it easier to think that the person needs to just ‘pull themselves together?’ What are your thoughts? How can we be tapping into our helpful nation to provide more support for those who need it for their health and wellbeing?
I was reminded of a Stephen Covey quote last week which said ‘When people have a real sense of legacy, a sense of mattering, a sense of contribution, it seems to tap into the deepest part of their heart and soul. It brings out the best and subordinates the rest’.
So, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, perhaps our starting point is to look for the good in others and letting them know how their goodness impacts you. You don’t know what baggage they’ve got and how they are coping with the stresses and strains in life. Plato said that we need to be kind, for everyone is fighting a harder battle. It’s often not until we hear the stories and experiences of others that it helps us to put our own lives into perspective.
When we are kind, everyone benefits. As a receiver of kindness we grow taller, feel prouder and of course much happier. As a giver, I just feel that I’ve done the ‘right’ thing and hope that it will have a positive impact on that person’s life, whether that’s through kind thoughts, words or actions. Kindness is not about reciprocity. We don’t have to show kindness to get something back in return. If you think that being nice or kind to someone will manipulate them into giving you something you want, you have misunderstood the meaning!! This is deluded kindness about self-interest and being calculated in your approach and you will often fall flat on your face as you create more harm than good.
My whole purpose in doing what I do is to make people feel more confident and competent in their abilities – whether that is serving customers, managing their staff or just having better conversations with their loved ones. But I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t kind to myself. Look after yourself. You will feel more confident and happier which is the foundation of infecting others with your kindness!
And don’t let Random Acts of Kindness be a one day event tomorrow. Find ways to make it a way of life!