Earlier this month, I attended a lecture at my daughter’s school. The evening’s guest speaker was Houston Kraft, a leadership trainer & kindness advocate. Houston travels around the country hosting workshops at various schools. His goal is to motivate tweens, teens, as well as educators into loving, learning & leading.
Houston Kraft asked the crowd, “How do we make kindness normal in our world?” One of the things Houston pointed out is that there is a difference between being kind versus being nice. Kindness is proactive, whereas being nice is reactive. If someone drops their books, then you are being nice when you help that person pick it up. However, being kind is more about reaching out to someone & creating that kind action first.
What are ways that we can be kind? Here are some examples:
- Finding opportunities for service.
- Seeking proactively positive interactions.
- Giving (unsolicited) compliments.
- The practice of selflessness.
- A commitment to generosity.
- The development of empathetic instincts.
I’m thankful that my daughter’s school encourages volunteerism. Actually, they do more than encourage, the school has mandatory community service hours that each student must fulfill. This has given my daughter the opportunity to volunteer for Heal the Bay, raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by participating in their walkathon, as well as donating food & other supplies for those less fortunate.
The areas that I find challenging for tweens (including my own) is the “practice of selflessness” & being empathetic. As Hunter Kraft noted in his lecture, our society has changed from a “culture of character” to focusing on a “culture of personality.”
If you think about it, we are living in an age where it’s all about taking a good selfie, tweeting our opinions & negating other people’s feelings without really taking the time to listen to what he or she has to say. Narcissism is running rampant in today’s society, but is it due to our reliance on social media or were we always this self-centered & now everyone has a platform to express their viewpoints?
Confession time: Sometimes I struggle with social media. On certain occasions, my daughter sees me taking endless photos of people, products & things. Am I modeling good behavior? She knows there is a business component to it. Am I using social media for social good or for self-promotion? Maybe it’s a little of both. I’m walking a fine line, trying to achieve some balance. Call it a work in progress…
Getting back to “character” vs “personality,” I learned that there are ways to build character. If we give kids an opportunity to practice good daily, then they will rise to the occasion. Having character can create change, but what exactly does character look like?
These character traits can be put into practice on a daily basis so that they become habit forming.
I’m working on these character traits right alongside my daughter. To be honest, I’m not sure who benefited more from Houston Kraft’s visit, me or my daughter. Either way, it was a great reminder that I need to lead by example.
Shortly after I attended this lecture, I discovered Rocks of Joy on Instagram. Their mission is to spread kindness, one rock at a time. I love peeking at their Instagram feed from time to time. Kindness rocks!
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. This blog post is for informational purposes only. The images shown in this post are used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.