Be clever, but more importantly, be kind

Are you trying to be right or do you want to make the change you are seeking to make?

Too often, the reason we are stuck in our organizations, our teams, our families is we are busy trying to prove people wrong.

You can’t eat your cake and have it too. We can’t be right and get what we want.

It’s difficult to change people’s minds. Impossible if you want them to be wrong too.

We have spent too much time building our walls to insulate us and protect us to have someone come in and tear them down. Expect confrontation.

So what point are you trying to make? What game is it you are playing? What is it you are trying to accomplish?

Because respect starts with kindness. It starts with small simple acts of generosity. We don’t need to keep score of the wins or loses. Leave that to haters who want to hate.

Being clever will get you pretty far in life. It is important to be clever, but more importantly, it’s better to be kind.

It’s a metaphor

calvin-hobbes-metaphor-for-life

I have met a lot of people who say they are “busy.” Apparently, everyone is busy. We are busy taking care of our families, friends, spouses, children, the poor, the needy, the hungry, the sick, the elderly, the less fortunate…

When we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life we don’t see the people around us for who they are—as people—and we forget to treat them as such. We end up treating them as obligations.

People are not something we have to deal with. No, we get to interact with them. Too often, we think what we need to do to take care of those around us is to pay our bills, file our taxes, bring home more money, get good grades, finish our assignments on time, improve our accuracy.

If we are busy filling our time with things we need to do and miss out on things we get to do, what is the point of the busy?

If we are going to get better at juggling our busy lives, we need to remember: It’s not how you catch the ball, it’s how you throw it. It’s about setting yourself up for the next thing that comes your way. And there will always be something else that comes.

When we are out of balance, it’s because we haven’t put enough time in the things we get to do. We are not focused on letting go of the things that don’t actually matter.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to acquire some money. But where are you: Do you have to? Need to? Want to? Or get to?

Well, let’s be clear. We have to, need to, want to and get to look people in the eye and embrace them for who they are and help them become the person it is they are trying to become. Our humanity depends on it. Not whether we make another sale. Sure, we need to make some money. But let enough be what it is…enough.

Pen to paper

Our ability to act, to be an agent of change starts when we put the pen to paper. Nothing happens until we decide what kind of story we are going to write, what kind of person we are going to be.

The greatest asset each and every one has is our ability to act.

We don’t have to wait for the world to pick us. We have the ability to pick ourselves and do whatever it is that needs to be done.

We can make something that needs to be made. We can help someone who needs to be helped. We can look someone in the eye and tell them you are here for them. We can share the burdens of others. We can lift each other up. Stand up against inequality or injustice. We can love the un-lovable. We can show more generosity and respect. We can be quicker to forgive each other. We can elevate the conversation. We can help the poor, the needy, the hungry, the sick, the afflicted.

Not because it’s our job. Not because we are getting paid. Not because someone told us to do it. No, we are doing it because it matters. We are doing it because it creates meaning. We do it because we want to make a culture we can all be proud of.

So what are your going to do when it is your turn?

(It’s always your turn.)

The danger of ubiquity

It is precisely because we have more access to more information and more resources that we become less dependent of others.

But…

Because we are less dependent of others, we are simply less sensitive to their needs.

Towards what?

Our amygdala has trained us to be afraid (of everything). But it helps us swerve out-of-the-way to avoid an accident and it helps us to duck and cover when we hear, “Fore!”

Its job is to keep us alive.

Here’s the thing, the amygdala doesn’t like it when we are judged, criticized and shamed. It wants to protect us and insulate us so that we don’t get hurt. But judgement, criticism and shame isn’t fatal. We can do our best work knowing our interaction with the market isn’t going to kill us.

We are not running from saber tooth tigers anymore. We don’t need to trade one cage for another. Instead of choosing what we think of as safety, we can decide to look for something better.

[We know what we are running away from. But most of us don’t know what we are running towards.]

Compliance ≠ innovation

It’s not hard to find people to dig the ditch they are told to dig. It’s not hard finding people to do what they did yesterday but faster and cheaper. These menial tasks have a low rate of failure. Keep your head down, follow the rules, get paid.

But innovation has nothing to do with compliance. And neither is being generous and connected and being artistic and leading.

Waiting to be told what to do next, following the manual or the dummies guide isn’t going to lead us to where we want to go. So why do we insist on continuing down this road?

Remarkable people are remarkable because they are worth making a remark about. They are scarce. And they need to be embraced for the failures that leads to growth.

On the other hand, competent workers, those who are just good enough, aren’t going to continue to be good enough in a world that is constantly changing.

We need more people to embrace the failures that leads to growth. We need more people like you to stand up and stand out to build a culture that we can be proud of.

Trying to get people to do this instead of that

Knocking on doors, making a sales call, writing a personal letter, telling a story, putting on a show, making promises (and keeping them), looking someone in the eye is becoming scarce in the marketplace.

Human work will continue to be in high demand in a world full of automation.

So if you are wondering what it is we need more of in the future, it’s this: see people as they are and give them a chance to become who it is they want to be.

It’s hard to change people’s minds.

But maybe, when given the chance, you can be the one standing on the wall lighting a path for others to follow.

Painfully obvious

Everyone has resources. Some of us have more resources than others: money, time, intellect, energy.

It doesn’t matter how much of these finite resources you have, what matters is how you use them. What matters is how much you care. What matters is if you are willing to bring emotional labor to the table.

It seems so painfully obvious but you can literally start with anything.

You can help at your local church, charity, non-profit. You can help the widows, the poor, the needy. You can choose to start a movement. You can choose to make a better environment in your home. You can pick up the trash that you see on the floor. You can hold the elevator door a little longer. You can let someone in your lane or write a letter. The cliché of helping the old lady cross the street with her groceries, you can do that too.

It’s not your job but you do it. You do it because it needs to be done. You do it not because you have to but because you get to.

I think we all are looking for the same things: respect, dignity, love, trust, being missed when we are gone.

That connection is waiting to be made if you are willing to show how much you care.

The time to start is now. Soon just isn’t good enough anymore. There are too many distractions to take us out of this moment.

Go.

Make a ruckus.

Check

You’re not sure what is going to appear in your inbox next. You’re don’t know who is going to text you. It’s not clear who is calling you this afternoon.

No one has a crystal ball.

If we cannot predict what is going to happen next, why are we spending so much time planning the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

It appears then that the only move that matters is your next one.

The choices you make today will have a direct impact in what you do tomorrow.

Find something to hang your hat on

Everyone is born with some type of talent. The kind of stuff you cannot learn like being seven feet tall. You are naturally gifted at something.

But skill, on the other hand, is learned.

You can learn to read, write, be generous, paint, film, connect, amplify your message, change something to make it better, to see, knit, smile, dance, sing.

Almost any skill can be learned with enough practice. Practice is all about failing. The person who fails the most will be the one that succeeds.

The culture has become far to obsessed with the lotto ticket winner.

The thing is if you were born in this county and have access to the internet and education and clean water and health care…you have already won the lottery. We don’t need a dummies guide to tell us how to get rich. What we need is to learn how to leverage the opportunities we have been given to open up a world of possibilities.