Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see – Mark Twain
The little arctic tern makes, arguably, the most remarkable migration of any creature on earth. An incredible average annual distance of 70,900 kilometres and a lifetime of flapping a frankly staggering 2.4 million kilometres. A fantastic journey with a singular purpose.
Our working lives can often seem bereft of such a singularity of purpose. It’s a voyage spent navigating an ever-increasing set of competing demands. One that all too often compels us to deny our true purpose. To put off the very thing that brings us most joy in the pursuit of a corporate agenda. A mantra of “if you can’t do what you love, love what you do” glossing over the reality that millions of dreams go unfulfilled. Promise extinguished. I wanted to be an artist, not an actuary. And yet, in spite of these frustrations, people are finding a sense of purpose not in fulfilling their dreams but in doing real, tangible stuff that offers the chance to dream to millions of others. Others who don’t have the luxury of a dream of artistry. For whom a dream is of warmth and shelter. Of food. Of an education. Of equality of opportunity. Of living free from fear or stigma.
Lift the lid and you’ll find that our workplaces are at once filled, yes, with frustrations but also with millions of unremarked acts of kindness. Sometimes random but more often offered with a compelling sense of purpose. To end injustice. To lift people up. To make a difference. The kind of difference that can change the world. Coffee mornings and cake drives, marathons and moustaches. A seemingly bottomless well of the milk of human kindness. All focused not on better work and working lives but on better lives, period. For some of the most needy, near or far. From Uttoxeter to Uganda and beyond.
Work infects our lives, filling up the majority of our waking hours, intruding on our personal time, affecting our mental and physical wellbeing. The organisational host organism is not so easily infected by the kindness virus it’s microbes are carrying. Employees who spend their spare time paying it forward to the less fortunate working under unfair contracts with employers who exploit child labour in the developing world. And litigation doesn’t seem to stop these sharp practices in their tracks.
But there is one thing we could do. We could start a kindness epidemic. We’re all carriers.
Become a donor.
Here’s two places you can start: http://www.billablehour.org/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/please-help-us-make-positive-impact-lives-street-hr-africa-pettigrew
Three people provided a word each as inspiration for this post. Donna Hewitson chose KINDNESS. Mark Catchlove chose LITIGATION. Alison Germain chose MIGRATION. My thanks go to them all.
Picture credit – LindsayRs/Creative Commons