I’m feeling stuck. Stuck in the current of this river which is bent and turning as we pick sides. We move through time and space with focused attention on our lives, and separating ourselves more and more each day with the polarizing conversations happening around us. I hear a lot of four letter words being strewn about relative to politics, titled leaders, and people who don’t agree with our thinking. I’ve watched Facebook “friends” break up over ideology and/or political views. Such a modern conundrum – living so publicly and yet so decisively.
I’m paddling along with the current I’ve been flowing in since early May, when I filled in for Elizabeth Birch at the ALA Annual Conference General Session. The flow of opportunity from surprising and unusual places that is rooted in this separation, this distance, is wonderful for my business, and my heart still wants this time to have passed. I had a call with a potential client last week — a government agency that is looking for LGBT training for customer service professionals. As government employees there is no requirement for acceptance, only a requirement for tolerance, for this community. In that moment it occurred to me that it’s like being nice or being kind.
I’ve traveled to a number of states and cities, many of them reporting how ‘nice’ the people are by reputation. Several organizations I’ve partnered with over the years have started our conversation with, “we are a nice bunch…” And nice is polite. It’s ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It’s civility. And I like to think it’s a starting point, not an ending point. Think about how many times you have been ‘nice’ today.
How about being kind? Kind is the care and concern demonstrated in dialogue with active listening. Conversations filled with empathy, which is the primary skill in leadership, and is the ability to understand the feelings of another.
So I ask you to check yourself – in this situation, in this dialogue, am I being nice or am I being kind? And is that what I want to be in this moment? We can change the world with more kindness. Are you in?