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3 + 3 Things for February!

Here are 3 Things to Remember + 3 Things You Can Do to Lead with Kindness, at work at home and in your community, whether you have a formal leadership role or not!

I was talking with someone the other day who was frustrated by unkind things happening in their community. A young person had been shot and the school next door had to go into lock down and shelter in place. It wasn't the first time it happened in their community either. In response, a couple of mom's got together and decided to have a Pop-Up Kindness Event to bring the community together. As I talked to one of them, I could see - and hear - how discouraged she was. "I just feel like I'm just throwing random rays of light into the darkness. I don't know what difference it could possible make."

It's easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed in the face of so many seemingly insurmountable problems and so much unkindness. Gun violence. War. Discrimination. Bullying. World problems that are being played out in communities thousands of miles away. What difference can the efforts of one person, who isn't in an "official" leadership role make?

I've been thinking about that for the past few days, which leads us to our 3 Things to Remember for February:

  1. You just need to 'do your part'. You don't need to be responsible for solving the whole big problem! Whatever it is! It's easy to feel like you need to have the answer to everything. To solve big problems on your own. After all, at work you are often asked to "come with a solution", not just a problem. And here in North America, where autonomy and individualism is so valued, it's easy to forget that most "big things" aren't actually accomplished by the effort of one person only. So, instead of giving up because you don't think you can solve the "whole problem", please remember that you just need to do your part! However small, that part, in combination with the "parts" and efforts of others can - and will - make a difference!

  2. Even if you don't see it immediately, the effort you make to practice kindness, be a kinder leader and activate others to kindness does have an effect! When you practice kindness, others see what you are doing. They will be influenced by your actions and words both unconsciously, and think about them consciously. They will start to think about their own ways of acting and speaking when they see the positive effect that kindness has. And, over time, they will be encouraged to try new and kinder ways. Even if a person isn't ready to take that leap now, they may be in a few days or months! You just never know. So don't give up just because you don't see an immediate change!

  3. Change takes time. As people, we tend to be impatient! We want things to happen right now! On our time! But that isn't the way it works. People do things in their own time, and often that timeline seems very slow. As long as you keep practicing, and doing your part, others will come along in their own time, at their own pace. And the more people who come along, and do their part, the more things will change for the better and kinder over time.

Please get out a sticky note, write these 3 Things to Remember down, and post them by your computer or wherever you can see them easily. Because it's easy to forget and easy to get discouraged. And easy to give up...but please don't! Your "part" is too important! The kind 'rays of light' that you are throwing into the darkness are making a difference!

To do your part, and be a "ray of kindness" in the darkness, here are + 3 Things You Can Do to Lead with Kindness for February:

  1. Get out of your office, out of your house and interact with your colleagues and neighbors! The weather was super-warm for February here yesterday. When I went outside, all of my neighbors had taken advantage of the nice weather too! It was so much fun to say hello to everyone, catch up with people I hadn't seen over a few months, and meet new people who moved into the neighborhood. A smile...a cheery hello...a "How are you! Nice to meet you!" creates a kind, welcoming atmosphere wherever you are!

  2. Speak up if you see and hear unkindness. I read a post the other day about someone who felt that they were being spoken to unkindly. They remained silent because they couldn't figure out what to say back that wouldn't be unkind. In that situation, you can always choose to simply say, "That isn't making me feel good. It's hurting my feelings." The other person may not realize that what they are doing or saying isn't being perceived as kind. When you speak up and explain how you feel, it allows them the chance to practice empathy, which can lead to more kindness!

  3. Remind yourself (and others) that feeling grumpy and out of sorts is quite common in February in colder climates. Shorter days and lack of sunlight can have a depressing effect. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also know as "February Blues" can get people into a funk. If someone you know is down in the dumps at this time of year, or acting unkindly, a quick reminder to them, and to yourself, can help deescalate unkindness.

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were heading out to pick up take out for dinner. It was around 5:30 pm and I noticed, with surprise and joy, that it wasn't totally dark out as it had been for what seemed like eternity! The sun was setting and the sky was a beautiful purple, pink and orange! For the first time this winter I thought to myself "Spring is on the way!"

Change takes time. Unkindness can feel like an unbearable, unending darkness. But, like winter turning slowly into spring, unkindness can fade. It just takes time, effort, persistence and each of us continuing to do our part!

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