- Michael Thompson
Kindness is how you change the world.
Four years ago, I walked into a bar, and shook hands for the first time with someone I had greatly admired from afar. When I thought of my career aspirations, and the type of person I wanted to become, this man checked every box: serial entrepreneur, leadership and communication teacher, blog and Youtube channel with a six digit fanbase. More importantly, in our shared home of Barcelona, he had a reputation for being as kind as he was clever.
To say I was excited was an understatement. I was new to the city and was eager to make friends. Sitting before me was the one person who I would have given anything to connect with.
An hour later, I left the bar, and promptly asked the first person I walked by to give me a swift kick in the ass. It didn’t take me long into our conversation to realize I had made the mistake of reaching out too soon and I failed to make a good first impression.
However, something interesting happened about a year later. I had just begun to write in earnest, and after putting up a blog post, the one person who liked it, was the very person I had expected to never hear from again. The next month, it happened again, except this time he told me to keep at it. A few months later, again, going so far as to say my latest entry was great.
With the exception of meeting my wife, these moments, created from someone I am very proud to now call a friend, Conor Neill, changed my life more than any other.
After each contact, my confidence rose, not only in my writing, but also my thinking. Over time I stopped convincing myself I was an underdog, and I finally began to take my career on the offensive.
Fast forward to today and I am exactly where I want to be. I am doing the work I love as a career coach and writer, surrounded by the people I love.
This is all thanks to someone taking just a few minutes out of their day to give another human being a boost.
If you want to be rich, be thoughtful:
Over my career I have worked across three continents. However, no matter where I was, the people who were thoughtful, and proactively created special moments for the people around them, seemed to be doing alright for themselves.
This is for the simple fact that it’s hard to be poor, if you are making the lives of the people around you rich.
The beauty of the world we live in is we have unlimited opportunities to make these magic moments for the people around us. All we have to do is lift up our heads from time to time and think about ways to create it.
While everyone is thinking about themselves, be the person who thinks about others:
If you were to ask most people how they achieved their success, the idea of watching where everyone else was going, and then doing the opposite, would fall somewhere on their list.
In short, they made a conscious decision to stand out. Fortunately for both you and I, the easiest way to get noticed in 2019 is by being thoughtful.
Most people are so caught up in what they have to do, they fail to consider what the people around them want to do.
How do you think your day would progress if instead of waking up and thinking about all the things you had to do for yourself, you took a moment and thought of ways to do something nice for someone you cared about?
Do you think you would feel better or worse, if instead of grabbing your phone first thing in the morning, you grabbed your partner and gave them a kiss to end all kisses?
Do you think you would feel better or worse, if instead of hitting snooze, you used those 10 minutes to play with your kid at the park on the way to school?
Do you think you would feel better or worse, if instead of only thinking about your own writing, you pulled up a chair and helped someone to improve theirs?
These acts of kindness are not only soup for the soul for the people you care about, they also feed your own.
This is because it’s hard to turn around and yell at the barista for messing up your order if you just bought the person behind you their drink.
Don’t just leave creating magic moments to chance — plan for them:
I’m not asking you to put your own goals aside. By all means, keep pursuing them. But what I am asking you to do is proactively reserve some time each day to take stock of the people around you, and make a list of how you can support them. Then start executing.
The most important list that very few people keep is the one of how they can best support others.
That friend who is nervous about a big interview: let them know you have their back.
That new person in the office who keeps putting in the work: let them know their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
That new writer who shows promise: let them know to keep at it.
The beauty of doing these small acts of kindness is you never know where they will end. They may be the very thing that serves as a tipping point for someone to go all in.
Pulling it all together:
Over the last four years Conor Neill has taught me many valuable lessons. But without a doubt, the most important one, was the kindness and support he showed me after we first met.
He could have decided to never speak to me again, and I wouldn’t have blamed him.
Instead, he decided to take a few minutes out of his day to check in on me. Those boosts may appear small, but they played a starring role in helping me to accomplish my big dreams.
Everybody today wants to change the world. However, we forget that the fastest way to do this is by lifting up our heads, and doing what we can to create positive change in the people around us.
Our lives are not measured by how many people inspire us, but rather by how many people we inspire.
My friend Conor taught me that.
The future is thoughtful.