This is the 3rd of a 4-part series of posts to explore more about the 4 qualities that really are truly, uniquely me. Last week’s post was all about PASSION…the fuel, fire, enthusiasm and zest for life and whatever I happen to be doing at the moment…or thinking about doing!
Now we’re at KINDNESS. And I thought, well, why not check the dictionary – I think I know what it means, but what does it mean? The word ‘kind’ means “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.” And kindness is “the quality or state of being kind.”
I remember when this word ‘popped’ for me in this part of our workshop exercise. I had a mini freak-out moment. Well, not really, but my stomach flipped a little. But then I took a deep breath…and I knew it popped for a reason. Yes, this is truly one of my 4 noble qualities. This IS one of 4 things that fuels me and that I have boundless, endless amounts of – to share with the whole world and to make the world a better place.
I think I had that freak-out moment because it triggered some insecurities inside me. Some see kindness as a weakness. And I didn’t want to be thought of as weak. I don’t ever want to be. I actually had flashbacks of my childhood. I got teased a lot for being so nice. Genuinely nice! Man, kids are so cruel to one another sometimes, don’t you think?
Kindness is anything but weak. I try to practice kindness with a good dose of healthy boundaries. Sometimes the kind thing to do is to walk away from a bad situation and not engage further in the ‘poison.’ Or to not say anything at all – avoiding cattiness and gossip. But I’m not always happy, nice, cheerful and kind all the time. Read other posts in here and you’ll know this. I’m human and not a robot. I have a bad temper, but I’ve learned to harness it and breathe through it – most of the time. I’ve gone through low points of despair and depression – feeling broken and hopeless. Lonely. Misunderstood. Angry. But I do always come back to center.
However, I do go into new situations brimming with kindness and positivity (these two words are pretty much inseparable in my world). This project IS going to be successful. I WILL like that person I’m going to be introduced to and they’ll like me too. I WILL enjoy and savor that new recipe…or that new restaurant I’m going to try. That magazine I’m going to read. That new exercise routine. Know that glass half empty vs half full saying? Well, for me the glass overflows with happiness. I can’t remember exactly where I read or heard this, but there was some lady explaining how when she first meets people, her default is she DOESN’T like them. That person has to ‘prove’ themselves through their personality and their behavior that she is ‘worthy’ of liking them. All I can say to that is BARF. UGH. PUKE. That’s soooo anathema to how I’m wired. So maybe that example, explaining the opposite of how I’m wired, will make it more clear how I AM.
So…what if that person I’m introduced to ends up being a total jerk – mean, angry, bigoted, ignorant? It depends. If it’s someone I’m talking to at a party and I’m not finding any common ground for us to connect with (the weather is always a last gasp attempt at conversation), well, the kind thing to do is to listen to learn. Find out what makes this person tick! Our default is to immediately decide whether we agree or disagree with what the other person is saying. It takes practice to challenge that and to actually listen. [Lord knows this came out on turbo overload during the elections!] Or, the kind thing to do might be to excuse myself to the ladies room, powder my nose, and strike up conversation with someone else!
If it’s someone I’m working with, that’s a whole other challenge. One of my strengths is developing great rapport and relationships with my co-workers. I do mostly short-term consulting engagements which typically last a year or less. So I’m constantly wrapping up something, finding another work assignment, and pretty much starting all over, working with completely different people, a completely different project and a completely different work environment paradigm if you will. But this is a well-developed muscle within me – tootin’ my horn just a little here. If I’m not hitting it off well with someone on a new team, I put it in perspective. How much will I be working with this person? How are they perceived by others on the team…is he/she in a leadership role, or one that wields a lot of influence otherwise? Is he/she respected by others? How long am I even going to be on this work assignment to want to invest my valuable energy ‘winning this person over’? If it’s relatively short, I’m not going to sweat it.
Eeeking out any form of common ground with someone I don’t naturally resonate with can be very challenging. But again, I try to listen to learn. And I remember that, especially with men, that their opinions are everything to them. If a man unloads his opinions on me and I vehemently disagree with every single one, well, I breathe and remember that he’s sharing them with me because he trusts me. I’ve made it a ‘safe place’ for him to communicate. That’s me being kind.
Not sure if this is making any sense. That’s OK – this is my outlet for random streams of consciousness. I love the freedom in here…and I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as I am!
Next post: PEACE