Kindness is an interesting concept, one that I feel is greatly misunderstood. It is not simply about being nice to someone.
Sometimes when a paramedic arrives at the scene of an accident they may have to do things that cause short term discomfort (or even extreme pain) to simply save a person's life. They have to make choices that are best for the person's welfare, over their short term comfort.
Kindness revolves around genuine care for a person, care for their life and care for their evolution as a person. When a person is being a victim, treating them as a victim may not be kind as it can empower that part of them that likes to be a victim.
Years ago when I was playing football, I had a coach who I really respected. He was a fierce competitor and a great mentor. There was a point where I had been playing some good games and was starting to get a little carried away with my own self-importance in the team. On the training track one night, he gave it to me straight between the eyes, and it was humiliating. I was angry and hurt by the serve he gave me.
Later that night when I cooled down, I knew he was right and I adjusted my behavior accordingly and started to again do the team things. The following week I played an even better game, and felt more part of the team. He didn't say much to me after the game, but the look he gave me said it all. He knew I was better than that and knew my ego needed to be deflated a little.
That was a kindness on his part.
Years later I realized that my coach had wanted me to be a better person, not just a better footballer. He knew that how I conducted myself in my football would be how I conducted myself in life.
Sometimes, being kind to someone involves showing up to them to support them to look at how they are being in the world, how they are acting or behaving. The conversation can be uncomfortable, but if it is delivered with the intention of caring for that person's growth and development, it will be okay.
But there is a catch here and it is a significant one. I cannot do that for others unless I welcome it myself. None of us have reached the pinnacle of life's wisdom. We all need to keep evolving and learning. Many of us are great at dishing out advice but neither seek it or accept it.
There is no doubt that a person will always achieve higher levels of fitness if they put themselves in the hands of a tough and demanding trainer.
If you seek out a mentor who simply keeps telling you how wonderful you are, they are not really a mentor. In fact, they are probably the opposite and are contributing to your demise.
As a leader of people, are you being genuinely kind by taking the opportunity to have the difficult conversations? Have you got the skill to hold those kinds of conversations and keep it all moving in a good direction? Have you created your own network of people who are prepared to call you on your "stuff" and keep you moving forward and growing?
Just as exercise requires regular bouts of discomfort to create growth and advancement, life requires the exploration of areas that may be uncomfortable to bring about growth and to create opportunities to evolve.
Are you practicing genuine kindness in your life? Or are you simply trying to be nice?
Sometimes facing the extreme discomfort of the unknown, to do what you feel is the right thing in the moment, and to reach for someone and really help them, is the hardest yet most rewarding thing of all.
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