By Kay Caldwell
We are living in a time that requires kindness and compassion to survive. When was the last time someone showed you kindness? You know that feeling you get when someone treats you really well and says something that is so unexpected. I think in the workplace we often forget kindness. For example, when was the last time someone said to you, “Thank you, I am grateful for the contributions you make each day to this organization?” I have a feeling it has been awhile. Our country, our businesses and our families are all going through some turbulent times right now. The state of our economy is less than favorable. Many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. There are those individuals taking jobs that they are over qualified for just so they can afford to buy food and clothe their families. In times like these, when survival seems to be the topic of the day, please remember to show compassion.
I am reminded of a story shared by Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker. The setting was a bitter, cold evening in northern Virginia many years ago. There was an old man waiting for a ride across the river and it was so cold that his beard had become glazed with the winter’s frost. The wait seemed endless, and his body became numb from the frigid winter wind. Suddenly, he heard the thunder of horse’s hooves in the distance. Anxiously, he watched as several horsemen approached. He let the first one pass by without making an effort to get his attention, and then another passed, and another, finally, one horseman was left. As he drew near, the man caught the rider’s eye and said, “Sir, would you mind giving me a ride to the other side? There seems to be no passage on foot.”
“Sure, hop aboard,” the rider responded. Unable to lift the man’s half-frozen body onto the horse, the horseman dismounted and assisted the old man. It was decided the horseman would take the old man to his destination a few miles away. As they approached the small but cozy home, the horseman’s curiosity caused him to ask, “Sir, I noticed that you allowed several others to pass without an effort to secure a ride. Then, when I drew beside you, you immediately asked me for a ride. I’m curious why, on a bitter winter night, you would wait and ask the last rider. What if I had refused?”
The old man gently got down from the horse, looked at the horseman and replied, “I’ve been around for a while son, and I know people pretty well. I looked into the other horsemen’s eyes and immediately knew there was no concern for my condition. So it was useless to ask them for a ride. But when I looked into your eyes, kindness and compassion were evident. I knew your loving spirit would welcome the opportunity to give me assistance.
Those heartwarming comments touched the horseman. “I am most grateful for what you are saying,” he replied. “May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.” With that final comment, Thomas Jefferson turned and directed his horse back to the White House.
The most remembered and revered leaders are those who know how to treat people with genuine compassion and kindness. We know that history speaks for itself; Thomas Jefferson was one of those. What about you? How are you perceived by others? Bahn, a philosopher once wrote, “Speak kind words and you will hear kind echoes.” I hope kind echoes are what you are hearing.