holding dad's hand

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For December 2022 the quote was, “My wish for you is that you continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.”

Kindness found me in 2022 thanks to Cole Baker-Bagwell. Before her, I have to admit kindness was a bit of a throw away word, like nice. It didn’t seem to say much. Then, she shared her definition for the word, “kindness is a commitment in thought, word, and action to leave everyone and everything better.” Then, I listened to her and saw how she lived the word. Then, I tried it out and kindness took shape. Here are quotes that caught my attention in December:

  • Look at the behaviors you tolerate
  • Leadership is stark. It is terrifying. In some ways, it’s the ultimate act of creativity
  • Ignite good in others
  • Keep the fire burning
  • Time under tension
  • We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are
  • God lurks in the gaps
  • It’s your story honey. Feel free to hit ‘em with a plot twist whenever you want.
  • Our soul lives in a joyous peace. We just need to get through the layers of mind and body static to find it.
  • We are responsible for our talents
  • Just start
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
  • This is my natural baseline: being at ease, spacious, and open…none of us is built to be a sprinter continuously. I am a sitter, an explorer, a guide.
  • When you cut into the present, the future leaks out
  • Inhale, “I am free to feel.” Exhale, “I will stay whole.”
  • We are all made of stardust and stories
  • Sign your name upon my heart
  • I will gather all the dusty sorrows from the attic of memory and cast them into the fires of oblivion
  • Magical wishes for your journey ahead 

Cole connected me to Magnus Wood, founder of the Kindness Corporation. Yep, it’s a thing! And how can you not get behind a movement with the tagline, “We help work suck less and business thrive more”? Especially when the average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work, or 1/3 of their life.

In October, I joined Magnus’ group of international leaders who meet weekly to learn about how kindness takes shape, what influences it, what diminishes it, and how to practice it – as well as share stories and tools. It’s a refreshing weekly treat that bolsters not just how I want to be as a person but how I can generate kindness in my professional and personal community.

I found that a key byproduct of kindness is connection, something I feel so many of us not just need, but crave. COVID, politics, loss, war, injustice, religion, and more place us in an “us/them,” “for or against” dynamic. Kindness on the other hand is not about an issue, but rather a person. How you as a person can be kind to another. It’s connectional.

Each act of kindness you demonstrate gives others options. Options on how to think about and treat those who are different. Options on how to make decisions at work that are supportive. Options on how to show up in a controversial situation. Options on how to create a new solution. Options on how to stand up for a better process. Options on how to be with others. Options on how to foster community.

While I think we start life from a state or lens of kindness, we somehow loose this as our default setting through our experiences. We second guess our innate response to be kind. It takes effort, and a bit of boldness, to rebuild your kindness muscle. But when demonstrated, kindness can feel radical for both the giver and receiver, and it’s a powerful sensation. A force for good.

I have to admit though that I like that acts of kindness feel a bit rogue in the current climate. I like that my kind-centered thinking, solutions, conversations, and actions rub against the norm. I enjoy disrupting the “mean world,” the status quo routine, and the old guard. I like the subversive change I’m generating at all levels of various organizations. I like that kindness breaks power-holds and emboldens others to be kind. I like that kindness brings about a kindness. I also like how I feel when kindness is the norm.

Here’s to the rampant spread of kindness in 2023.

December 2022 Quote: “Astonish a Mean World with Your Acts of Kindness”

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