A Big Challenge

This is a little post with a big challenge. The challenge comes from one of Dale Carnegie’s first books. While not as well known as his all time best seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” it is perhaps the book that has changed more lives than any other book he authored. 

The book is entitled, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” The “challenge” is actually one of the principles from the book. The principle says “Forget your unhappiness by creating happiness for others.” 

One way to do that is to commit each day to do something kind for someone and not let them find out it was you who did it. 

A couple of points before I send you off on your challenge.

You must understand the basic difference between being nice and being kind. Being nice is easy, it requires no real effort on your part. Being nice includes things like saying thank you, please and your welcome. Think of being nice more like having good manners. 

Being kind on the other hand requires some effort on your part. It might be offering a ride to someone on your way to the store. It is especially kind if where they are going is not on your way. That’s very kind of you but it doesn’t meet the challenge requirements because they will obviously know you give them a ride. 

Here’s an example that would definitely meet the challenge. Let’s say someone has broken something that they have treasured for a long time. They can’t fix it themselves or they can’t afford to have it fixed. So you secretly have it repaired and put back in it’s place. 

Doing the kind thing by having it repaired on the sly doesn’t meet the challenge either. But you’ve at least met the first half of the challenge. Quietly putting it back in place and NEVER mentioning that you took care of it will complete the full challenge. 

It’s a challenge because it’s human nature to want to get “credit” for our good deeds. I do kind things for people but then I tend follow them around like a lost puppy until they notice the kindness. When they ask if I did that, I just smile. I didn’t tell them I did it but I’m always open to accepting their gratitude. 

It’s hard not to seek recognition for the good things we do. But when we are successful it is a great feeling. 

Like all things worth doing, being kind and not seeking recognition for it is easier said than done. But if you want to do something incredibly special for someone…and yourself, you’ll do it anyway. 

Now, get to it, there is a kindness waiting to be done. 

Saying Thank You is Not a Weakness

Isn’t that a ridiculous title for a post on leadership? I mean why would anyone think that thanking someone could ever make you look weak?

Except for too many people in leadership positions, that is exactly what they think. I often encourage leaders to thank their people for a job well done. Most of them see the wisdom in committing to that basic human relations principle. Most, but not all. 

The response I get from a surprising number of people who occupy leadership positions is that their people get a paycheck, that’s enough thanks. I also hear that when you start thanking people for doing their job they begin to expect it. But perhaps worst of all is the “I’m not their mommy, they do their job and we pay them…that’s where it ends.” 

Even though I’ve written about this before and even though I’ve said it a thousand times, let me say it again. If you don’t possess the most basic ability to be nice to the people you’re supposed to be leading then whoever elevated you to a leadership position made a mistake. 

Sometimes even the best leaders get busy. So busy that they “forget” that basic principle of of saying thanks to their team members. It is important to note here that “forgetting” to show appreciation for your team causes the same lack of engagement issues as choosing not to appreciate them.

Being nice costs you nothing but it can mean so much when it comes to keeping your people engaged and motivation. Being nice is the fastest, easiest way to demonstrate that you see the people you lead as actual human beings. It shows you care about them as people and not just an “asset” that fills some role or does a job. 

It’s probably a good idea if we look for a second at the difference between being nice and being kind…yes, there is a difference. Being kind to someone means doing something for them. It likely has a cost to you associated with it. Most often that cost is in terms of time but it can also be financial. Helping someone with a project at work when there is no benefit to you is an example of being kind. Going out of your way to give someone a ride home is another example. 

Saying hello to someone, holding the door for them, and yes, saying thank you, are all examples of being nice. It’s that simple.

If you want to be an actual leader, rather than merely occupy a leadership position, then you must realize that truly leading comes with a lot of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is earning the commitment of your people. If your people think you don’t care about them as human beings they cannot commit to you. 

Many times being nice, which includes saying thank you from time to time, is all it takes to show you care. If you can’t even do that then you can’t actually lead either.

On a different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

You Matter Too!

President John Kennedy said that each of us can make a difference and that all of us should try. The key words in that quote are “all of us.”

None of us can do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs every single bit of all the good you can do. A single act of kindness can change the world of the person receiving it and there isn’t a single person in the world who can’t be kind. 

Despite what some people seem to think showing kindness is not a sign of weakness. It is in fact a sign of strength. But first understand the difference between being kind and simply being nice. 

Being nice is when you are polite to people and treat people well. Some people call that being courteous. Being “nice” is sort of the minimum requirement for being accepted into society. 

Being kind is when you care about people and show it. Sometimes you can be kind to someone even though you aren’t nice to them. What some people call “tough love” would be one example of that. You can be nice to someone but also be unkind. That’s actually pretty common. We are often nice to people we don’t even know but we don’t put in any effort to demonstrate we care about them. 

It costs us nothing to be nice to someone but being kind almost certainly has some type of cost, or as I’d prefer to say, investment. It might be giving some of your time to assist someone else. Being kind might mean sacrificing a little of what you have so someone else can have a little bit of something too. 

Being kind takes effort and intentionality. It can be tiring but the effort is always worth it. Whether the person you’re being kind to realizes it in the moment or not; you know you’ve done the right thing and that feeling has staying power.

But here’s the thing….all that difference making and being kind to others can take a real toll on you. It can wear you down. A little fact that many people miss is that kindness for others is only sustainable if you’re first kind to yourself. Yes, you must put yourself first once in a while. 

If you’re a kind person be sure to invest some time in yourself as well. Focus on your needs. Focus on something for yourself that you never have time for. Make time! 

I know it’s counterintuitive for truly kind people to put themselves first. This is especially true for moms. But honestly, the kindest thing you can do for others is to be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Make time for yourself so you’ll have more time for others. 

You have the time to care for yourself and others too. You just have to change your priorities to sometimes put yourself first. Remember, the people you care for most will benefit from YOU taking care of YOU too.