Random Acts of Kindness

I was on an airport bus this week and experienced an extraordinary person.  She wasn’t the driver (the one who is responsible for customer service) – she was just another rider. She exuded an engaging energy and seemed to have a sense of shared well-being.  Well-being she shared with the world.

When I got on the bus, there she was, along with a man who looked painfully confused.  Turns out he didn’t know his departure gate and was quite befuddled.  The driver wasn’t helping, so the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) lady stepped in.  She asked Mr. Befuddled what he knew about his flight: time destination, flight number…anything.  In under a minute, she had his gate number.  He was noticeably relieved.  She smiled and fell backRAK 2
into her smart phone.  I smiled to myself thinking the kindness was circumstantial.  Kudos to her, but public displays of kindness aren’t always common.

When we got to the right stop for Mr. Befuddled, he almost missed it – but his guardian angel gently nudged him along.  Then she joined the driver in a conversation about the World Series.  I noticed that her attention had an impact on the driver.  I suspect he works in a paradoxically lonely world full of people.  On this ride, he threw out a line of human connection, which she caught and responded to.  (As I reflect on it, I realized I didn’t).

The impact on the driver was clear.  The exchange brightened his outlook and, I suspect, the rest of his day.  When we got to our mutual stop, she gathered her things, gave our driver a tip (he hadn’t carried her bag, he simply drove) and wished us all well with a magnetic, friendly energy.

Last week I wrote about Negaholics.  It was good to experience this woman who demonstrated how Random Acts of Kindness are on the other end of the human-encounter spectrum.   Our lesson is we get to choose how we meet the world.  There it was, live and in person on the bus.  At no cost to her, she was able to make the world a better place simply by moving through it.

So imagine Random Acts of Kindness as a way of being – something that is as simple a breathing.  Simple but it’s not always easy.  It requires being aware of how I am seeing and experiencing the world.

On the other hand, it sure invites a joyful outlook.  And the impact can be profound.

Listen to your intuition… OR ELSE!

I’ll start by confessing that I’ve talked about intuition for years without really understanding it. In fact until 2 weeks ago I thought I DID understand. Here’s the story of how I learned how much I didn’t know.

I was visiting my elderly mother.  She doesn’t drive so one of the gifts I’m able to give her is to take her to church.  That’s what we were doing. I had my mother and 2 of her friends… 2 walking frames and one cane. I let my ladies out at the door of the church and had gone to park. I pulled into an almost-empty parking lot.  Just as I chose a spot, I got this feeling. It was a dark and foreboding sensation and it was aimed at the parking place. “Well that’s silly.”  People like me ignore feelings like that.  So I pulled in to the spot, parked and made my way into church.

Fast-forward.  It’s now after the service and I’m on my way to collect the car.  I turn a corner and watch an 85-year-old woman slowly; carefully back her very large Buick into my bumper. She backed her care until there was resistance (my car) and then shifted into gear and slowly drove away.  She was oblivious.Image

Good grief!!  I was torn between a groan and a laugh. After all, I had been warned – I just chose to ignore the warning. My intuition had been clear. When I realized it, I had to laugh.

As an intelligent, educated individual I scoff at “feelings”. After all when I followed those feelings in the past, nothing happen!   (Are you getting the “duh” I discovered in that logic??)

So, how are we to ever know if feelings (or intuition or the Universe or God…choose the name that resonates with you) is telling the truth?  Well one way is to ignore it and notice what happens. In my case, it was cost me a new bumper!

To believe in something beyond myself is to have faith – in the unseen, in the stuff I can’t control.  OMG – I hate that!!.  At least,  I find it hard.  On the other hand, it’s a place I plan to play.  As we’ve been moving into a new business with new types of clients, I’ve realized I can’t do it all myself.  I have to lean on something greater than me…a scary realization.

I bet you’re not so different from me – hoping to get a “sign” that we’re headed in the right direction – right?  So that’s where I am – working to believe the universe speaks as loudly about what I should do as what I shouldn’t.  My job is to pay attention – an BELIEVE.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Intuition – or that little voice that says “Don’t step THERE”

I’ve been playing with Intuition.   You know that voice in your head that can say “Oh – try that” or “Don’t step THERE!” We all have the voice.  The question is, how often am I willing to first listen and second give credence to what it tells me?

Back in my corporate days, you wouldn’t have caught me dead paying attention to my intuition. I was so in my head!   Any new idea had to be validated through research, published (HBR was always a good source) and widely recognized as valid.   Are you aware of how limiting those head games make us?  I didn’t either – never even considered it. I was such a good corporate player.  Turns out I played pretty small.

Before I left my nearly-30 years at IBM.  I read Joseph Jaworsky’s and Peter Senge’s Synchronicity:  The Inner Path of Leadership.  It made me very squirmy.  What they said about slowing down, being aware of energy beyond themselver and the success and happiness they found when they let go was very foreign to me.

Not anymore – I’m no longer a ‘good corporate player.”  Nope,  I’m just not “good” in the sense of being too analytical nor am I corporate. However, I am still a dedicated player.   And I choose to play with intuition. What a cool place to play. Here are the challenges:  FIRST I have to discern the little voice. That’s a challenge because it can be just a “no, not that” twinge.  Then I have to pay attention.  I have to slow down –  a competency I’m working on – to even get the signal.  Finally, I have to believe that what I’ve just perceived is significant.  I don’t know about your little voice, but mine rarely offers more the tiniest view into what is coming.

Sometimes its clear that I will never know for  sure if it was my intuition and if it worked (like when the voice tells me to go a different road when I’m driving).  I do know I’ve had a time or two that the voice has said, “jump off here” that I didn’t and got stuck in traffic for a couple of hours – no kidding!   Well, I give intuition credit for knowing more than I do.  And its comforting to realize I’m not alone.  Not just that – that I’m not alone and the energy around me is actually on my side!!

So where is this taking us?  To a place of slowing down and having faith in something besides ourselves.  As leaders, we all know that slowing down helps us catch mistakes, separate the churn into definable streams and have enough energy to be up for the marathon of leadership.  It also gives us the opportunity to be aware of coincidence, intuition, or whatever you want to call it.  I find it amazing.  By the way, I still have to shush the corporate voice in my head.  She thinks its nonsense.  I believe she is wrong.