Your Kindness Will Lead You to Success

I am not impressed by someone’s ability to intimidate, cajole, persuade, manipulate, overpower or overwhelm others. No, what impresses me most are the people who have the ability to do these things, but who choose instead to let kindness lead them to success.

Once upon a time, a colleague of mine — frustrated by an assistant who couldn’t move as fast as he wanted — pulled her into his office and unleashed five minutes of verbal abuse before he fired her. She ran out in tears, and he came out with a big smile. “That felt SO good,” he said.

He viewed this incident as a success. I saw this as evidence that he was kind to people only as long as they did exactly what he asked. Otherwise, he cared not one whit about them.

It’s easy to yell and threaten, but these behaviors are signs of weakness, not strength. Strong people don’t lose control of their emotions. Skilled fighters say that once you lose your temper, you have lost the fight. Your vision narrows and you become dangerously impulsive. If losing your temper is a weakness for fighters, it is a deadly flaw for professionals.

A while ago on LinkedIn, Heléna Kurçab wrote a comment on one of my articles:

One of the foundational quotes that continues to guide my life is by holocaust survivor Victor Frankl:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

You don’t have a choice whether or not: the economy tanks, the stock market soars, your company is bought, your job is threatened, the biggest jerk in the world is promoted to be your boss, your best friend questions your ethics or your significant other truly loves you.

You only have a choice how you respond to such events.

To the degree that human beings have power, that power lies in our response. Sure, you can initiate change. But that’s the easy part. You decide to donate $50 to a charity like you have every year for the past ten. You sit down and write a check, then mail it. Easy-peasy.

But then you lose your job. Do you still donate $50 to charity? Maybe yes, maybe no. Perhaps you give them a week of your time instead… that would be a good outcome. Maybe you ignore their needs because you are too stressed out… that would be a bad outcome.

Kindness fosters more kindness. It opens eyes instead of closing them. It is contagious, and it feels wonderful.

Kindness does NOT equal weakness. Quite the contrary. It takes tremendous strength to be kind to someone who is slowing you down or who thinks differently than you do. But kindness bridges such gaps, and brings out the talent hidden in so many people.

Luis Benitez, who has 32 times summited the Seven Summits — the tallest mountains on each continent — told me that kindness and compassion are essential elements to overcome the horrible physical and mental challenges he encounters while climbing.

For example, if you see someone limping on a day when you have to reach the next camp, you can curse their weakness and ignore their pain, or you can stop for 20 minutes and bandage their feet so they can keep up with you for the rest of the climb.

By the way, that second strategy is not entirely altruistic. If a member of your party loses the ability to hike, your group may have to turn around. Stopping to help a colleague may be the fastest way to ensure you achieve your goals.

It takes discipline and foresight to break your stride to help another but helping a person close to you will almost always be in your long-term interest.Here’s a personal example…

Each day, in the #1 slot on my To Do list, I place “Kindness First.” Before I do anything else, I take at least one action that has no purpose other than to be kind to another person.

Here are some ways you could do the same:

  • Praise another person to his or her boss, peers, family or friends

  • Share someone’s contributions privately or publicly, such as via social media

  • Send a heartfelt thank you note

  • Offer assistance, whether that means teaching someone a new skill, or picking up items for them at the store, to save them a trip

  • Introduce two or more people who have mutual interests

  • Take the time to quietly, fully listen to another

  • Show compassion and empathy

  • Volunteer

Kindness First is the single best way to connect with other people and to lift my own spirits. The more unexpected my kindness, the more satisfaction I experience when offering it.

If this sounds like some sort of overly altruistic endeavor, I’d like to confess that, to me, this Kindness First strategy is one of the most selfish plans I’ve ever hatched. By reaching out to other people every single day, I strengthen my social network and — in effect — take out an insurance policy on my health and longevity.

The stronger your social connections, the happier and healthier you are likely to be. In my experience, strong social connections don’t come from asking people favors or manipulating them to get what you want. They come from being genuinely interested in other people, and from having an authentic interest in their well-being. It comes from being willing to help others. It comes from giving of yourself.

By being kind, you can find success. I have seen your future, and it is…

“From now on, your kindness will lead you to success.”

***

Many people—and leaders—don't understand what kindness means in a business setting. 

It means to cultivate a mindset of helping others. When we talk about kindness, we mean to cultivate such a mindset across your organization and within your own career.

Here are dozens of ways to get started. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list; if you set your mind to it, you can come up with many other possibilities.

1. Anytime you interact with another person, the first three words in your head should be: help this person.

2. If a person is too selfish, nasty or scary for you to help… at the very least do your best not to hurt them.

3. When you help another, you are demonstrating the kind of person you are, and you are creating the kind of world in which you want to live.

4. Day after day, be a little bit kinder and a tad wiser than you were the day before.

5. Always be yourself, unless you are a self-absorbed and self-centered person. In that case, act like someone else for a change.

6. Be as kind to others as you are to a puppy, and as respectful as you are to your boss.

7. If you can read and write, you can help someone land a job and a measure of self-sufficiency.

8. Don’t teach a starving person how to fish. First, give them a fish. Teach them how to fish when the pressure to eat is gone.

9. When you consider whether you have yet lived up to your potential, ask whether there is more you could be doing to help others in this world. (This logic can also be applied to an organization.)

10. Draw a circle five miles in diameter around your home or office. How many people desperately need help that you have the potential to provide them?

11. If you know a colleague is under pressure to wrap up a special project, provide something that will help him or her do this.

12. Once fear takes over, you can get stuck in a very bad place. You say things that don’t make any sense, and you don’t think straight. Don’t allow fear to control you... or to chase away from kindness mindset.

13. People are at the core of all business and life. Not technology. Not financials. People.

14. How do you get a terrified person to safety? First, prove they can trust you. Then break their challenge down into small pieces, and prove they can handle it.

15. The best way to capture someone’s attention is to ask them a question they are interested in answering.

16. You can make others feel trusted, valuable and important by taking your time to listen to them and repeat accurately what you heard them say.

17. Beware of advice from – and actions by – people who are rewarded for certain outcomes.

18. Without examples, your words are little more than abstract babble & most people ignore such clutter. Tell a story!

19. The timing of your words can be more important than your words. When you choose to communicate often outweighs the words themselves.

20. It doesn’t matter if you have the best ideas in the world; if you can’t express them clearly, no one will ever understand your insights.

21. Imagine yourself near the end of your life, in a rocking chair on the porch. Ask yourself, “Will I sit in that chair and be glad that I (spent 60 hours a week in the accounting department)?

22. Don’t lecture an entry-level person on what it takes to be a leader; don’t bog your CEO down in details she doesn’t need to know.

23. The most attractive thing in the world is a human being who is completely comfortable in his or her own skin. Aim to become one of those people.

24. Be coherent. If you really want to live by the water, don’t go looking at houses that are three miles away.

25. Most people have inflated opinions of themselves. Force yourself to adopt objective metrics for assessing yourself.

26. The more you value the differences that make each of us unique, the more you will bring out the best in both yourself and others.

27. Smart people compromise – it is that simple. The more you feel it MUST be your way… the greater the odds that your way will end in tragedy.

28. Our world has become too complex for one idea or set of principles to work every time. You need blended solutions that take into account a range of diverse ideas and beliefs. Open your mind to the ideas that others have.

29. We are only human, and we make mistakes. We see the world through our own biases and preconceptions; that is not going to change. Let’s all be a bit more humble and open-minded.

30. Never stop challenging the ideas you love best, otherwise they may someday become the ideas that lead to your downfall.

31. Your environment always wins. Surround yourself with positive people and ideas.

32. It’s always sunny. The only question is how high you have to go.

33. Keep the people who don’t work from slowing down your efforts to accomplish great things.

34. If you have boundless initiative, learn to be patient. If you have infinite patience, learn to take action. You will need both.

35. Do something 21 times, and it becomes a habit. Do it 210 times, and you become “lucky” to be so successful, healthy and…

36. While “the price of admission” for a job that you love may make you swallow hard, dig deep and pay it.

37. Be as persistent at helping others as you are at getting what you want.

38. The first rule of understanding others is that every human being is complicated. You need to look beyond the surface.

39. Hear what people say before you translate their message into your own worldview.

40. The more you focus on the present, the more pleasure you can get from simply being calm.

by Bruce Kasanoff

 
 Motivate employees. Engage customers. Gain perspective on your goals and actions. You can accomplish all of these through our Weekly Wisdom program.

Motivate employees. Engage customers. Gain perspective on your goals and actions. You can accomplish all of these through our Weekly Wisdom program.