How often do you perform random acts of kindness? I was reminded of the concept, recently and unexpectedly when I turned up at the Osborne Studio Gallery in Knightsbridge expecting to be part of a networking event. Instead, I found myself at a private art exhibition to which I’d not been invited.
The term was originally associated with the American writer Anne Herbert. In the early 1980s she wrote on a restaurant place mat, ‘Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. The concept, random acts of kindness, has been adopted by various communities to raise awareness of the value of generosity in making the world a better place. There’s even a web-site, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, set up to promote and maintain such actions.
So what is a random act of kindness? It’s an unselfish act performed deliberately, whether planned or spontaneous, to help someone out and make them smile. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or a complicated action. It could be simple and straightforward, e.g. smiling at a stranger; sending someone an unexpected ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Thank you’ card. The recipient benefits and the giver feels enriched by the experience. Many of us suffer with poor self-esteem and performing random acts of kindness boosts our self-image and our self-worth.
Arriving at the Osborne Studio Gallery, I’d clearly got the venue right but not the date. So I was embarrassed to find myself unwittingly ‘gate-crashing’ this exclusive event with complete strangers. However, the hosts, a middle-aged married couple, were very warm and welcoming. They offered me a glass of champagne and brushed aside my embarrassment as if nothing unusual had happened. The hostess and I hit it off, when we discovered a shared interest in Bruce Springsteen and the Olympic games. I was encouraged to walk around and view the paintings. Despite having no idea who I was, they reached out, made me feel important and asked for nothing in return. This wasn’t only a real random act of kindness, it was much more. What they were doing in effect, whether intended or not, was creating value. In business this is critical for success, the more value given over and above what you’re paid, the more repeat and new business you’re likely to get, because people will remember you and talk about you. I’m doing that right now in relation to the couple at the Osborne Studio Gallery.
But this applies to more than just business. It applies to life; because random acts of kindness are about valuing others and being valued. Mary Kay Ash once said, ‘Pretend that everyone you meet has a sign around their neck saying ‘make me feel important’. Not only will you succeed in sales but you’ll succeed in life. Imagine if we were all doing this, what a better place the world would be. And whilst the aim is not to get something in return, the more people performing random acts of kindness, the more likely we are as individuals, to receive help when we need it most. And the spin off for me at the Osborne Gallery that evening, was that I learned something important about myself that my stereotype about the ‘snobs’ of Knightsbridge was no more than a stereotype.
So what could you do as a random act of kindness? Here are a few examples;
- Send an unexpected bouquet of flowers to the receptionist in your office
- Surprise your parents by cooking them a meal
- Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the Costa queue
- Offer your seat to someone on the tube, whether or not they are elderly or pregnant
- Share your brolly with someone who doesn’t have one
Since my experience at the Osborne Studio Gallery, I’ve performed at least 1 simple random act of kindness each day. And you know what? It’s having a great effect on my self-esteem. So why don’t you have a go? 1 random act of kindness each day.
And random acts of kindness relate to Winning Pathways Coaching. In enabling women to develop their confidence and self-esteem it uses coaching skills and techniques and encourages actions such as random acts of kindness. Contact Claudia here to find out how you can benefit from a Winning Pathways Coaching programme.