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The Value of Kindness: An Action or a Way of Life?

By Orly Wahba, Founder of Life Vest Inside

In speaking with companies and corporations about the concept of infusing a culture of kindness into the workplace, the common response I hear is, “We don’t have the time, resources or manpower to cultivate a kindness culture. We have deadlines and milestones our employees and company need to reach. We simply can’t pile on another thing.”

That simple statement of “We have no time” is an indication that the fundamental perception of the term “kindness” is being misinterpreted and misunderstood. Is kindness something we need to make time for? To answer this question, we need to first understand whether kindness is an action or a way of life.

If kindness was something that we needed to allocate time for as opposed to being a part of our essence, then kindness can shift on the scale of priority; sometimes, being important and other times, not as important. But the truth of the matter is that kindness is not nor ever will be an ACTION, although it is oftentimes associated with action like volunteerism or charity work.

For kindness to flourish, it must be seen as a way of life. It must become part of our essence, our nature, and be embedded into every facet of our lives in the same way breathing and blinking are. From the way we speak to each other, the emails we send, the way we look at people, talk about people, the way we walk into our office…kindness should be infused into every interaction.

Kindness is the way we look at the world and the people in it, but kindness first has to begin with the way we see ourselves. We need to ask the questions: who are we, who do we want to be, and how do we choose to be remembered. We must place ourselves under our very own microscope and ask difficult questions that will help us determine the values we want to champion: honesty, integrity, loyalty, humility, etc.

When we work on our character and develop our values, kindness is a natural byproduct – no time is needed to be set aside to be kind – we simply ARE kind. Kindness, can therefore be seen as the summation of character and values.

For example, we don’t make time to be honest. We either are or we’re not.

Each of the major character traits and values tie back into kindness and results in a kinder you. When you live those character traits on a regular basis, it inspires all the people in your immediate circle to want to pursue those same character traits and values.

Remember this – you can’t teach someone to be honest by speaking about the importance of honesty, or teach someone integrity by speaking about the importance of integrity. You can only teach someone these values by living it yourself and championing that value. When we live in such truth and harmony with our values and our character, we are happier, more efficient individuals. When we’re happier, we create happiness around us. It becomes contagious and people want to be bitten by that same bug. Naturally, they too will start looking at their character and their values, and question how they can become the best version of themselves.

A Kindness Culture is about living the principles that we say we uphold. Every company has their core values. They’re beautiful on a piece of paper or as signs on a wall, but do we live by them? It’s not about finding a physical action or initiative that proves we believe in them. First and foremost, it’s about leading our own lives by those core values. If a company’s core value is integrity, let all the employees from the top down evaluate whether they are treating people with integrity. This, in turn, will lead to a kinder company environment, sculpting the path and ultimately the entire journey of the company itself. It just starts with that one person.

There is no quick fix to transform a company’s culture. It is not an accomplishment that neatly gets checked off of a list. It is a constant toil, day in and day out. It is a work of the heart and it starts with the leaders who set the tone for all those who are watching their every move. If the CEO of a company is seen smiling and greeting people with care and authenticity, THAT becomes the company culture because he in turn sets the tone for others to follow, and no sign was needed.

Let us each focus more on work of the heart, and ask the question what do we want to be known for? The rest will take care of itself.

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