“Start with Kindness…It’s FREE!”
Kindness is one of the core character traits of being a true leader. Alongside empathy and active listening, kindness is a practice that has the power to impact others throughout the world! But how can it be, you might ask, that this one quality—this one behavior—can have such a big influence outside yourself? It’s because of the ripple effect.
The ripple effect starts with one action; one kind gesture. When that kindness is felt by one person, they are then empowered to pay it forward. Not only that, the kindness expressed to them can bring motivation, hope, and a sense that they belong, which can change the way they approach others. Kindness is one of the most valuable gifts that as humans, we can afford to easily give to others at absolutely any time. By carrying out kind acts in our daily life, we are saying to others, I value you. We are all created equal. It is impossible for any of us to be perfect, but by carrying out more acts of kindness, we can all be better people, making up a better world.
You’ve probably heard of Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun and missionary who devoted her life to kindness and compassion, caring for the sick and the poorest of the poor. This quote by her perfectly sums up the ripple effect of kindness: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”
We all don’t have to become a Mother Teresa figure of course, but we do have the power to take her suggestion and run with it! We can all choose to cast the stones of kindness that will create many, many ripples. Kindness is something that is simple to do and costs nothing to give. With purpose behind our choices and the intention to bring more goodness to the world, even the smallest kind acts can have a positive impact on the bigger world.
Another way to understand the impact of kind acts is to think of them like kindness deposits. The actions within your relationships are kind of like a bank account: there are deposits and there are withdrawals, and healthy relationships depend on the right balance of both. Kindness deposits might include things like:
Spending quality time with someone
Offering sincere praise
Complimenting someone else’s actions
Expressing your honest thoughts
Sharing positive experiences together
Withdrawals, on the other hand, are the opposite of deposits, and can sometimes have a negative effect on relationships and friendships. You want to take responsibility when a withdrawal is needed, and you want withdrawals to be an uncommon practice.
With your own ripple effect of kindness, you want your goal to be about building habits—habits of positive deposits with your family, your friends, and your community. The more kindness you deposit, the more your account grows. But the more withdrawals you have, the less you will have in your account. There are times when you’ll need to make a withdrawal from your account, but just like with your bank account, if you withdraw when there are no deposits, you run into trouble! Building up those kindness deposits is key!
So what are some ways you can practice these deposits of kindness? Here are five suggestions to try:
Understand and listen to someone when you are in conversation. Look them in the eye and actively listen to what they have to say. Empathize with how they feel and express genuine kindness to them.
Keep your commitments. Think about how you feel when someone keeps their promise of doing what they said they were going to do. (It feels good, right?) Follow through and do what you say you’re going to do.
Always be honest. Do so gently and with care, but never lie to cover up your feelings or actions. In relationships, trust is built when you show your ability to be honest, which means being authentic and not pretending.
Do the little things. You can honor and show respect for others through small acts of kindness, like a hug, a smile, or doing something you didn’t “have” to do.
Apologize when you have to make a withdrawal. You’ll make mistakes; it’s part of life. But when you see you have violated someone’s trust, a sincere apology is the best start to reversing the damage.
The ripple effect of kindness starts with you, and it starts with your positive actions toward others. Remember: when you show that you care about people, you are casting a stone to empower them to do the same and show that they care, too. Everyone in this world wants to feel valued; they want to feel like they belong. Kindness shows that they are and they do!
"They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel." Carl Buehner
Your ability to inspire kindness in yourself and others begins with your next kind act. Cast the first of many ripples, starting today, and feel the goodness in our world begin to grow.