April 26, 2023

Being Too Nice?

When I was in high school, one of my best friends was a year older than me. During my senior year, he went to a nearby college and lived with a few guys in a house on campus affectionately called The Ranch.

Every couple of weeks, I’d show up unannounced, let myself into The Ranch, assess the cleanliness, and then get to work. Usually, I just cleaned their kitchen. It was a small act of kindness and a way to connect.

One of my other friends at the time balked at the entire idea of it. “They don’t need you to clean up after them! And don’t you have better things to do anyway?” I understood where he was coming from, but I actually enjoyed it — the time with the guys, the joy in the room when we all hung out, the conversations we’d share while I was cleaning. I actually looked forward to it.

As I’ve gotten older, I still occasionally do things like that. And though I’m no saint (trust me), I still enjoy it. Every once in a while, I get a sense that people still balk at those acts. Being nice as a CEO or leader can seem weak or even naive, to some. It’s a sort of “power-move” to be mysterious, quiet, brash, and pass off small things to other people.

I can’t help but to wonder, “What if the opposite were true?”

What if, instead, kind acts were considered to be bold? If caring was perceived as strength? What if showing up in your full humanness was a sign of being capable?

You don’t need to wash someone’s dishes to be kind. But you probably have something to give that you can make someone’s day — just because.

Those small moments might lead to some of your most transformational lessons.

PS: Further reading & articles in this week's issue of Wednesday Words.

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