In Colin Powell’s recent book, the former Secretary of State shared a story about his interaction with the employees who parked cars. Knowing there were many more employee cars than spaces, Mr. Powell wondered how they decided who to give the best parking positions.
“Mr. Secretary,” they said, “When you drive in, if you lower the window, look out, smile or know our name, you are number one to get out. But if you look straight ahead, do not show you see us or that we are doing something for you, well, you are likely to be one of the last to get out.”
A great leader shows kindness to everyone.One of my favourite quotes is as follows:
“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless and un-remembered acts of kindness and of love”
By: William Wordsworth
This quote was written in 1798 by Wordsworth as part of his work, “Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey.” The significance of it to me is its timing and the sheer simplicity of the message. Even over 200 years ago, poets and philosophers like Wordsworth were challenging human beings to be kind at all times because, as he pointed out even then, simple acts of kindness and love are the best portion of any man. Just as nothing has stayed the same, nothing has changed since those days.
As you make your way through your life, do you consciously and deliberately consider whether or not you are being consistently kind? Or instead, do you justify rudeness, revenge, or cruelty as being somehow righteous or fair? As your day unfolds, do you look for ways to do kind things for others that will not garner you any notoriety or fame? Or instead, do you simply do apparently good things that will attract attention and advance your position if noticed by the right person?
A charitable or kind act is not something that is done to gain favour or attract pats on the back. It is something that is done out of pure goodness and the spirit of caring and giving. As Wordsworth suggests, even if it is nameless and un-remembered, a kind act has value and will bring benefit to you and to those you help. Some of the greatest heroes and philanthropists of all times are unknown and have never been applauded. True kindness does not come with conditions or an expectation of reward.
The second lesson in Wordsworth’s quote is that acts of kindness and love are the “best portion of a good man’s life.” If you are rich, famous, talented, or successful in your business, you have not attained true goodness. You have simply moved yourself ahead of others in one area or another. You have not necessarily brought any value to the world until you have helped others in the true spirit of selfless charity or kindness. Obligatory or market-driven charitable donations and occasional appearances at charitable events do not make one kind or loving. Fortunately for charities, our business world and the tax system have made charity a good financial investment. However, very good people will move beyond business-based-charity. Good people are kind to everyone at all times without motive.
As you drive down the highway in your new car or slip into bed in your sumptuous home, ask yourself, “Have I done any good for the world today? Have I helped anybody just for the sheer pleasure of being kind and selfless? When you can answer “yes!” to those two questions, your life will have true value and you will be the good man or woman that Wordsworth spoke of.
Kindness is easy! Try it…I guarantee you will like it!