Why Not Kindness?
Eight strangers from all over the world piled into the streetcar in Portland, Oregon, laughing and full of energy. So much so that the woman at the window of the car almost got frightened by the wave of energy hit-ting her. We were loud and boisterous.
“What are all of you here for?” she asked.
She had picked up on us being together.
“We are participating in a scavenger hunt and one of the challenges is to ride in the streetcar and connect with this gentleman,” someone ex-plained as we pointed to the guy in the World Domination t-shirt.
More laughter and excitement.
When we exited at the next stop, the woman left the streetcar as well. Standing on the sidewalk we tried to figure out where we had to go next. I noticed her continuing to ask questions and wondering what was going on. From what I could assess, she might not have been homeless, but closer to poverty level than any of us. And she seemed a bit confused by us, which was not too surprising.
We had just met 45 minutes ago, eight strangers from New Zealand, Florida, Colorado, Tennessee, Milwaukee, Germany, New York and Chicago. A varied group by any definition, from college age to encore career, we represented a mixed breed and we might have been a bit intimidating with our exuberance.
How did we find ourselves on a scavenger hunt in Portland? We were all attendees at the 2016 World Domination Summit, the yearly gather-ing of non-conforming change agents focused on adventure, community and service. And the idea of the scavenger hunt was, a) community building, b) to help us get our bearings in Portland and, c) to stretch us (much like our other challenges, such as creating conga lines out of thin air or doing push-ups).
While the others were busy finding out where we needed to go next, I remembered one of the challenges we had been given: No. 18 – Find and eat the Oregon state nut.
Not being from Oregon I didn’t know what the state nut was. (Do you know the state nut of your state, let alone of a different state?). So I leaned in to the little lady.
“You are apparently from Portland,” I said. “Would you happen to know what the state nut is?”
“Well, yes. It’s the filbert. The hazelnut,” she said.
With that she proceeded to rummage through her purse and pull out a crumpled cellophane bag. It contained a few filberts! She started to hand out individual hazelnuts to us.
Little did she know she was actually helping us with one of our given challenges right then and there. And she was so kind to share her filberts with us when clearly she didn’t have much herself.
We took pictures and uploaded them to meet our challenge criteria. I handed her a thank you note, expressed our gratitude and we parted ways.
I remembered that we had been instructed to be kind before we left on our city adventure. It was the one thing we were told to focus on. BE KIND.
And here we were checking off our list of challenges and this com-plete stranger who had less than we did was kind to us.
It is easy in the moment of excitement — a new product launch, a key-note, a stressful encounter with a client, or an altercation with a peer — to focus on ourselves rather than others. Being kind sounds easy and it can be. But it’s not always easily executed. We are inundated with information and people trying to get our attention and we can sometimes be short and in a rush. Why not upgrade your leadership style with only one thing.
This gentle soul we met on a street car was a beautiful reminder of the conference’s theme: BE KIND
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all a little kinder to each other?
If you focus on one thing and one thing only, make it that.
If you found this article useful and inspiring, feel free to check out the article about the Book Review Never Too Late to Startup by Rob Kornblum who I met at WDS.