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.
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.
Heléna Kurçab once 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.
I founded the Kasanoff Institute to give both organizations and individual professionals a means to explore the role of kindness.
Please don't be a spectator. Join me and help make the business world a kinder and more productive place.