Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.”
Or, if they’re not now, they likely have in the past…or they will be in the future. Everyone.
I had my second meeting with Bob yesterday.
Our first meeting was a month ago. That conversation was just of the meet and greet kind. “Hi, I’m Jim. Who are you? Tell me a little bit about you. Where have you been? Where are you now? Where are you hoping to go?” Bob was upbeat and positive. Apparently, things could not be better.
While the first conversation was more assessing where he is today, this second meeting was to be more focused on “…what I want and where I want to go…how do I get from what I have, to what I want?” It’s the basis for all coaching conversations.
But as is typically the case – things quickly reverted to a back story that was yet untold.
Bob had just gone through an ever-so-common-today job transition. He’s glad to be out of the misery he was in at the last place and excited to be where he is now. “I’m ecstatic,” he said, “I’m making more money. I like the people and love the work. But…”
There’s always a BUT. It’s commonly, “But, I don’t see myself there long term. What I really want to do is.…”
“OK, great!” I responded. “So, tell me what the obstacles are to accomplishing that.”
Then, the floodgates opened.
“Well, my wife has cancer. My son’s on academic probation. My daughter’s getting married and there’s all the stress associated with that. I’m also the caregiver for my Dad, who has dementia. I have been in a very dark place for a very long time.”
In 30 minutes, we went from, “I’m ecstatic! Things couldn’t be better,” (which had me wondering, “So, why are we talking?”) to “I’m in a very dark place and I need help.”
Everyone is dealing with something; if they aren’t today, they will be soon enough. Such is life. Like my friend who just started his early retirement, went to the doctor with a nagging sore throat and a cough, and was diagnosed with Stage-4 esophageal cancer. He was gone within four months, leaving a wife, two kids, and new granddaughter – all stunned and traumatized over what just happened.
Everyone I meet when I leave the house this morning – acquaintances and strangers alike – is dealing with something. They may have just weathered one storm and the sun is shining again – for now – but another storm, is just a matter of time. Who do you know…who needs more kindness?
Here is what Lawrence Lovasik suggests we do and don’t do in The Hidden Power of Kindness:
Don’t speak unkindly of anyone.
Don’t speak unkindly to anyone.
Don’t act unkindly toward anyone.
Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
Do think kindly about someone at least once a day.
Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day.
Pursuing our great lives has much to do with how we relate to others, especially those suffering in any way. Today, make sure to include kindness toward others as a key ingredient in your great life!
The greatness of kindness…it’s in all of us!
Written by Jim Gernetzke, business/life coach and founder of Nos Lumine