During a recent dining experience, I was favored to share a conversation with the Chef/Owner. I will never forget how he looked me in the face and with all sincerity said, “Kindness alone saved me.” Needless to say I was so impacted by his statement that I scrambled for a pen to capture this small but profound account of his life. In just that moment, he had gained my undivided attention, and I wanted more. His statement moved me so much so that I repeated it and knew immediately it was “ripe” for my upcoming Weekly Wisdom blog post. He went on to explain how Kindness was the one thing in life that had permeated him to the very depths of his being. It was kindness that had led him to change and lead a more simple life. Kindness had inspired him to both eat and live healthier. Kindness had led him to a greater spiritual existence, and kindness dictated the manner in which he would live out the remainder of his earthly existence. Wow – there was so much packed into this small but life-altering testimony. I could hardly wait for time with pen and paper and the opportunity to inspire others with what I had heard this night. This small town Chicago suburban “restaurateur” had not only served me great food, but also great lessons for life. So, here it is…
The experience that evening was so powerful it drove me to my dictionary for a closer look. Classified as a noun, kindness was defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. In reality, this definition did not come close to capturing the depth of what kindness had clearly accomplished in this man’s life and truth to tell in my life either. It left a void. So I turned to the Greek Dictionary where indeed I found my answer. Translated from Greek, kindness equates to moral excellence suggesting if real in your life kindness will permeate your very existence. And moral excellence is intentionally setting higher the bar for the manner in which you will live and setting it higher than your comfort zone allowing you to continually stretch toward what is good, just and right as you encounter others.
As I learned from this restaurant owner, kindness is not a matter of how you are served at a restaurant or even that you are served with a smile. Kindness is a fruit that when properly nurtured, cared for, and pruned, like a healthy fruit tree, can bear life-giving, life-inspiring, and life-transforming fruit. When kindness exists as fruit in your life, it becomes a part of who you are not just what you do. Kindness is not a box that you can – without more – check completed. It is more than please and thank you, or being polite when circumstances dictate; more than benevolence, or even philanthropic pursuits. It is more than patting yourself on the back for lending someone a helping hand. Kindness is an attitude, belief, and core value. It is character and integrity. It is humility and humanity. Kindness is a difference-maker! And it reminds me of a quote from my book on leadership that really applies to us all, “Leadership is not advanced by the number of people you encounter; rather, its power is in the depth of the transaction.” Where do you measure on the making a difference meter?
My hope for you after having read this blog is that you will never be able to view kindness in the same manner and that it will move you to thought AND action. Kindness is a moral imperative for life that reaches capacity within when you so impact the lives of others that they will never be the same as a result of having had an encounter with you.
Quote borrowed from Leadership DASH Breaking Through the Finish Line.
Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams