As the great Joe Cocker said in a lyric: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
It all started when I realized that I was not kind. In this world, I know that I have more of myself to give, but I hold back, not trusting those who I believe deserve my kindness.
Like many of you, I have trust issues. Past relational pain has left me with scars that have been tough to overcome, but I am working on them every day and today, its all about kindness.
I know when to be kind, but I don’t know how far I should go with kindness. Will, the person I am kind to take advantage? I know not to blame them should they take me for a ride, but I need to protect myself from it. So, I spread my kindness sparingly and very carefully. That is not acceptable. It is not how I will lead a happy and fulfilling life.
If life has taught me anything, it is to seek help when I am stuck. I cannot get through life alone. As the great Joe Cocker said in a lyric: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” We all get by with help from our friends if we speak. Looking for advice on kindness, I decided to ask a friend of mine who is the epitome of kindness, Dovico’s CEO and my boss, Yves Doucet.
I texted him one evening and asked him if I could talk to him about kindness, maybe over coffee outside the office. He replied, “let’s go hike Fundy at 5 am!” Fundy park is a beautiful National Park with sprawling mountainous forests with some of the most fantastic walking paths. I had always retreated to the park when I was mentally stuck, so when Yves suggested an early morning hike, I jumped at the opportunity.
Let’s back up a little. Yves is not a typical CEO. He believes that transparency, trust, respect, alignment, and passion all lead to building a successful business. One of his most significant qualities is how he conducts life and business with kindness. His kindness is why he opens his time up to any of us at Dovico to talk about concerns we may have, even if this means going for hikes in the woods.
It wasn’t long before our conversation got deep as we navigated the dark, crisp and fresh pathways of the Fundy forest. Neither of us was speaking from ego, and neither of us was jostling for position over another, we both kept an open mind as we discussed the intricacies of kindness. I wanted to understand how kindness moves him, and he wanted to know how my trust issues get in the way of kindness. We hiked for about three hours and then headed home with new perspectives and came to the following conclusion: Kindness is like the fishing pole to alignment.
To find out if another person is in alignment with us, who won’t take advantage of us and is safe to share conversation with, we must lead with kindness and trust. To further the fishing metaphor, we must cast our lines of kindness into the water, trusting we may catch a fish. Sometimes we won’t, but we will never know if we don’t try. I learned that by not trusting others with my kindness, I am not only robbing myself of relating with great people, I am also depriving them of me. We can never align ourselves with everyone in life, but without kindness, we will align ourselves with nobody.
I learned a lot from my hike in the woods with my boss (and I use the term boss very lightly). The time I spent with him saved myself many hours of guilt that would have likely hindered my productivity and idea generation as a copywriter for Dovico. It was an investment well made for him and a bonus well received by me. Kindness, when given without intent, is the most genuine gift we can all give each other. Today, my boss gave me the most valuable of all kindness: meaningful uninterrupted time.
Jeff Nagle, Copywriter
Also published on Medium.