It was go time! I was invited to speak at a conference on an island near Vancouver, British Columbia. I emerged from the ferry and greeted my driver. As I moved towards the car, my feet flew out from under me and everything went black. I woke up in a hospital the next day. My brain was foggy, while bolts of pain radiated from fracturing both ankles. Bedridden, and immobilized, my carefully laid-out plans collapsed and my income gone.
I called Mark LeBlanc, my coach. I no longer had a business and I had to put our sessions on hold.
“I won’t hear of it,” Mark barked in response. “Will continue with no payment until you are back on your feet – literally.”
Mark’s unsolicited kindness and generosity overwhelmed me; his humanity pulled me out of my funk. He provided an example I knew I wanted to follow and have others feel about me: admirable, trustworthy, loyal, grounded, and well-rounded.
In my book, the Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships, I focus on the seven Return of Kindness (ROK) pathways.
This book serves to help business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives notice if the rocks of kindness have been missing from their business model. If they have, these pathways can turn everything around.
The 7 Return of Kindness (ROK) Pathways
Kindness contains the word kin. “Kin” means a relationship between people, a connected group. In business, you can’t have kindness without connection, or connection without kindness.
The first rule for connectivity is quality over quantity. Sure, you can’t contact everyone, but you can maximize the short amount of time you have with people in very simple ways. Rule number two is to always have a card on hand with testimonials on them. It is a great tool and a great connector by bringing your credibility directly to the prospect. Rule three is to know your request. People are busy. Whether at a trade show or a networking event, there’s no time to waste playing guessing games.
To succeed in business, employees, customers, clients, and colleagues must feel appreciated, that their work means something to us, and their patronage and loyalty underline our success.
If you see someone struggling, offer to help them. We struggle with our own stresses and time crunches, so the act of generosity packs a lot of punch. Offer handwritten notes of recognition as your time spent finding and writing a card makes a lasting impression.
Be generous with your time, your gratitude, and your skills to instill a culture of kindness.
Patience is what keeps a sturdy bridge between people; impatience sends connectivity and the bonds we most desire in life toppling down. Patience is the main ingredient of the potion, with essentials of optimism, humility, and forgiveness to get it bubbling.
Flexibility is the key to life and to all healthy relationships. In fact, to be flexible is to be adaptable.
No one wants to be slaves to the grind. Using flexibility, we don’t have to be. The kind gesture of flexibility in thought, mindset and schedule shows that you and your business are of 21st-century ilk and your sights are steadily on the future.
In your business there are a multitude of opportunities to be generous toward customers, prospects, staff, and – don’t forget – yourself!
You possess the best commodity: time. Imagine your customers, peers, and vendors who see you as approach and available. Being generous with time when you think it matters will pay off.
For even the most mundane thing, be generous with thanking, compliments, and praising of everyone in your business. People notice that you take time out of your schedule to notice and acknowledge them.
Care and compassion cannot be faked. We as leaders must want to be authentic in connecting with people, and build it into our mission, business, and company culture. Consider revamping your company culture into a compassion culture. Practice forgiveness, offer constructive criticism and give the benefit of the doubt.
In my bad times, being positive and saying to myself, Okay I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and do it well, and having a great attitude, has made a difference in my life.
My secret to a state of positivity is breathing. Deep breathing transcends all kinds of negativity and combats reactivity in the moment. For me, I take four deep, long breaths. In the four breath-long pause, I stop for a moment before the moment stops me.
Positivity gives us the strength to look at the most dismal circumstances, and rather than pulling our heads into the sanctuary and darkness of our protective shells, we find solutions.
The Profit of Kindness
The kindness currency that Mark paid me during my most challenging time has paid off for him tenfold through my referrals and book sales. Implementing kindness as currency in my own business has helped me flourish professionally and personally in ways I never dreamed possible.
Consider the Profit of Kindness as a new kind of payment plan, one to which you commit yourself and your business in order to build equity in yourself, others, your goods and/or services, and your future. It is a plan based on seven pathways that generates a return on building long-lasting relationships through open exchanges that result in mutually beneficial outcomes.
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