A few months ago, I had the privilege to attend President Barack Obama’s appearance in my home town. The sold-out event was hosted as a fireside chat, where President Obama sat with a moderator and responded to questions about politics, life, and everything in between.
Those in attendance were eager to hear what the #44th President of the United States had to say. Although he offered many profound thoughts within stories shared, one in particular stuck with me. It was what he said when asked what advice he’s given his two daughters, and what advice he’d give all youth and adults alike. His answer, simply put, was to “be kind and be useful”.
Our World Needs Kindness More Than Ever
As we walked back to our car that evening, Michael and I reflected on that piece of advice. Specifically, on its simplicity, but also how complicated it can be in the world we live in today.
Our world needs people to be useful and kind more than ever. So what can we do about it?
Living life from this perspective requires conscious focus and firm commitment to ourselves, others, and communities locally and globally. From unkind childhood and adult playgrounds of the personal and professional variety, to competition and pressure (or worse, the bullying) arising from social media, we all need to find ways to avoid getting dragged into the noise, jealousy, and anger of it all.
Share Your Time, Talent and Treasure – And Stay Curious
In this stage – our incredible middle-aged period of life – we have wisdom to share from experiences, whether of happiness and hurt, or those fulfilled with privilege and helping others. Our mission as wise women should be to serve as role models and share views that inspire and help others. And, it’s equally important for us to seek opportunities to share our time, talent, and treasure with those important in our lives but also those in need of support.
Stay curious about the perspective of others, instead of rushing to form opinions or cast judgment. I know I have been guilty of this, and I suspect you may be as well. As researcher and author Brené Brown teaches, we cannot cast opinions or judgement from the “cheap seats” – “if you are not also in the arena, vulnerable and getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback”.
This is so true.
Be That Positive Force
Be kind and be useful is something I’ve included in my daily mediation since that day. I certainly have not perfected it, but as with everything, I remain an active student everyday. So as you continue on your week, I encourage you to think about your own daily practice in the space of being kind and being useful. As well, consider the values you want to bring forward in guiding your daily personal and professional life. Write them down and review them each morning before heading out the door, and then reflect on them at the end of each day. It’s a powerful tool I use with clients in their leadership development that always results in growth, and in many cases, positive change.
Be a positive force in the world: there are so many ways to put our time and talents to use (and we all have talents and can make the time). Stay above the negativity, the noise, and the hurt – “be the change you wish to see in the world”, as Ghandi. It’s all about one moment at a time, and one good deed at a time. And …because we can!
Denise speaks regularly on personal and professional development, workplace wellness, setting boundaries, and authentic leadership. Learn more here.
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