The following post is an excerpt from “Eve of Influence: Keys to unlocking exceptional leadership in women”. In this book, Leadership Zone Founder and Director Liz McCoy provides a practical guide to increasing leadership expertise and how to foster the development of compassionate, kind and connected workplaces. Eve of Influence is for the women who are fully committed to their leadership journey. For women who are willing to go deep, and work on themselves for the betterment of those they influence and guide.
In this post, Liz discusses kindness – the second of three ‘emotional states’ and provides practical advice on how to invoke a state of kindness in your everyday actions.
If you would like to read the entire book, I invited you to download it here.
Ah kindness … What a simple way to tell another soul that there is love in the world.
Kindness is a gift that everyone can afford to give; and every act of kindness grows the spirit and strengthens the soul. Mother Teresa, perhaps the kindest woman to walk the planet, tells us ‘kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless’.
To be kind is to be friendly, generous and considerate. It is selfless, empathetic and gracious. One of my favourite quotes is a classic of Maya Angelou:
‘People will not remember what you did for them, but they will always remember the way you made them feel’.
I maintain my nursing registration by working a couple of Saturdays a month in my local emergency department. I start every shift the same way … anyone who is allowed to eat and drink gets offered a cup of tea or coffee as my first priority.
Rarely will anyone remember that I administered antibiotics to treat infections, emptied catheter bags full of urine, or that I diligently watched a monitor to ensure a regular heartbeat.
But they always remember the nurse that made them a cup of tea because the emotion generated in response to a simple kindness is such a strong positive influence.
The practice of kindness towards ourselves invokes feelings of warmth and worthiness; of being nurtured and cared for; of calm assurance that all is well in the world. When that practice is externalised and others-focused, the emotional response is the same.
We’ve all heard of ‘Random Acts of Kindness’, right?
You never know how hugely you can impact someone’s else’s life by doing a small act, by being good in the world; or how that kindness will be passed on to create good for others. I just love stories like the one following, generated by virtue of movements just like this…
Two friends and I were out to dinner at a sushi restaurant, enjoying a laugh and catching up from the week. We finished eating and naturally waited for the waitress to bring over our bill so we could pay. It seemed to be taking longer than usual (not that we minded), when suddenly, she appears at our table. In her hand she holds a card with a smiley face. She continues to explain how a random man paid for our entire bill as a spontaneous act of kindness. We sat stunned, jaws gaping. This random act of kindness made our entire week. It also inspired each of us to commit to – and follow through on – our own random acts of kindness in the week that followed.
Now it’s time for all of us to crank up the kindness.
Spend a moment considering the last time you felt kind. What did it feel like?
What can you say to yourself to amplify that feeling?
Just like curiosity, the stronger the emotion of kindness you can generate within yourself, the more profoundly you influence the neurochemistry of others. Plus, the more you influence the neurochemistry of others, the more you build the neural network associated with relationship-orientated leadership.
Again, I canvassed a couple of clients to learn what they are saying to themselves to invoke the state of kindness …
- I am generous and have an abundance to give
- I choose to give freely
- You are deserving of my generosity
Where, when and with whom can you practice kindness today?
Here is your SECOND challenge:
Nominate five people right now (the first five that come to mind are just perfect). For the next five days you’re going to build your kindness muscle towards these five people. Take a few moments to explore and create the kind of thinking that generates a feeling of kindness inside of you.
Take note of the transformation in those around you as you practice (with volition) an even greater kindness as part of your growing leadership expertise.