The Power of Genuine Kindness

I had a reading assignment for work over the weekend, a short book written by a motivational speaker on improving business (and your life) by selflessly doing for others and being excited about your job, no matter what your job is.

When I discovered that I needed to read this book in order for me to adequately do my job (See: Create a workshop outline for someone else), I immediately had two thoughts: (1) What an f-ing waste of my time! and (2) I wonder if this motivational speaker applies his job-excitement rule to strippers? This thought was quickly followed by, Has a motivational speaker ever given a talk at a strip club? I can’t imagine a more lackluster audience, staring at him with dead eyes while he uses a riveting PowerPoint presentation to enjoin them to do the best they can whenever they grind on some drunken bachelor.

The book is The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. I finished it earlier today, motivated less by the words than by Trader Joe’s Meyer lemon cookies and a cup of tea. I have to admit–although I’m not Sanborn’s number one fan, and from time to time I found his uber optimistic tone grating on my soul–I was inspired.

The intended audience of this book is, I suspect, managers/companies who are looking for ways to get more out of their employees. Not being a member of that group, I found myself more interested in the secondary purpose of the book: making your life more meaningful (to others and yourself). In particular, I’m intrigued by the suggestion that everyone makes a difference in the lives of others everyday–positive and negative.

I don’t see myself as a pessimistic person, but I admit that I don’t possess a bubbly personality. But that’s what interested me about this book. The author doesn’t suggest that the reader buy a cheerleader megaphone and start spelling out motivational phrases at random passersby; he simply plants a seed in your mind that it’s easy to do kind things that will make someone’s day, and that will in turn make you feel good.

Performing kind deeds is not a new idea, but it’s one that is easily forgotten. I do nice things for others, from time to time, but the author recommends aiming for doing something nice for someone once a day. So here’s where the book gets sentimental and where I begrudgingly admit that I’m inspired:

“What makes any act extraordinary is doing it with heart. What makes any life extraordinary is living it with love.”

And so I find myself determined to do more: for my husband, for my mom, for my siblings, for my friends, for my co-workers, and for strangers that I come across. By “do more,” however, I don’t mean get out the ladder and clean my neighbor’s gutters. I mean little things, like give a genuine compliment or words of encouragement, or not get angry when someone cuts me off on the freeway.

Now to implement this do-gooder plan of mine. Later today I will bring my husband dinner at his underground lair that he uses to work on school projects in the next city over. Tomorrow I will enthusiastically throw myself into my work and create something I can be proud of.

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