Polite. Respectful.  Considerate in manner.

I work with someone who is very courteous.  I work with many courteous people, but one in particular inspires me to be more polite.  I was in a meeting with him this week, and he got up in the middle of it to close the blinds in the room.  The sun was shining in someone’s eyes.  Not his eyes.  Someone else’s eyes.  He didn’t close the blinds to help himself.  He closed the blinds to help someone else.  He didn’t comment on it.  He didn’t make it a big deal.  He simply got up and did it.  I’m not even sure anyone else noticed it.

It shouldn’t be old fashioned to be polite.

It shouldn’t be unusual to go out of your way to hold a door.

It should be commonplace.  It should be the way we all behave.  Polite and respectful should be the norm.

I am not venturing into conversations about politics or social media or any of the many other things around which we could discuss civility.  I am truly just talking about the way I want to behave on a day to day basis with the real people I know and with whom I spend my time.  I want to be more polite, more respectful, more considerate in manner.  I want to do small things without being asked, without expecting thanks.

There is great strength in quiet graciousness.


The Wood Behind the Arrow

Our city came together this week to acknowledge that we could all use a little more kindness in our lives. #BeKind was a citywide effort to shine a light on the ability of a kind word, a kind action, a kind moment to change things for a person who is struggling…or anyone for that matter.

Our schools were emblazoned with #BeKind shirts and murals and posters and rocks. There were clever videos and social media posts. Parents and businesses joined in the movement. It was everywhere.

But what overwhelmed me was not the cuteness, although there was plenty of cuteness to go around.

What overwhelmed me was the wood behind the arrow. I learned that phrase a few years ago on a visit to Apple. It’s all about the effort, the resources, the wood behind the arrow of an idea or a product. An arrow with no wood behind it goes nowhere. An idea with no depth, no substance, goes nowhere. Last night as we were talking about the day a friend reminded me about the wood behind the arrow.

Yesterday was about more than a slogan. Schools talked about HOW to be kind. There were resource fairs where our students learned about volunteer opportunities. They wrote cards and opened doors and shared things they like about their classmates. There was action, tangible action, to BE kind. There was wood behind the arrow.

I am grateful to the city and school leaders who started the conversations and paved the way for the initiative. I am grateful for the teachers and counselors and principals and student leaders who put real thought and creative energy behind designing meaningful activities for the day. And I am grateful for the simple idea that kindness matters.

Sometimes we think making the world a better place is complicated. And I am well aware that we have complex issues that require complex solutions. But in fact, the world is made better with each individual act of kindness. Act where you are. Smile when you can. Hold the door open. Make eye contact and thank people who show you kindness. Say please and thank you. Assume the best of the people you meet. And never ever forget that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Thank you for being kind to me. I hope I am kind to you. I know that this week was a good reminder that no act of kindness is ever wasted.