A few months ago, I settled back in my seat for the long series of (boring) speeches. High school graduation!
The principal, valedictorian, salutatorian, and the superintendent of schools had all prepared words for this special day. The superintendent of schools had to deliver the same speech four times that day — one for each of the four county high school graduations. As he got up to speak the first thing that went through my mind was, “I wonder if he recycles the same speech year after year or if he comes up with new material?”
My question was answered just a few seconds into his speech. He opened with a story about an email he had received at the start of the school year in August 2018.
He immediately had my attention as he began to read portions of the email.
I knew then that it wasn’t recycled material. The email was from a woman asking him if she could donate some signs to be hung in the local schools. She explained that several school districts across the county hung her signs, and would his county join?
The message on the signs was simple but very much needed: “Be Kind” painted on wooden boards, and ready to be hung. The superintendent accepted her donation and the signs were placed all over the school district.
The rest of the superintendent’s speech was a message of how those simple words can have an impact of great magnitude. That we all can have that impact. That was the.entire.message. Be Kind.
Kindness is a Choice
The reason I was on the edge of my seat during this speech is because I embrace that message daily. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you may remember that kindness is a core value for me. I feel that kindness is a choice. That the power of kindness is already lies within you. That we (you) can affect change.
If we are intentional about choosing kindness, we can transform someone’s day. Just by taking a few minutes out of our day to make someone else’s day just a little bit better. Once you get started, you’ll create a ripple effect that’ll inspire others to spread kindness too.
Kindness can ignite someone’s potential.
I’m reminded of a story of a college freshman who wasn’t sure she could leave her parents to attend the university. She was scared and unsure. While she was in line to register for something, someone came by and handed a lollipop to a young man standing in line next to her, and said, “give the lollipop to the beautiful lady next to you.” That simple act gave the young woman the courage she needed to take steps towards independence. It also introduced two young people who were married a few years later. It’s just one example of a small act meant to make someone’s day better that had a positive long-term impact.
I’m grateful for the message at the high school graduation. Grateful that of all the life lessons that could have been imparted, the message was kindness. I’m grateful that it was one my son heard, and I hope he will spread it as he enters college. It re-inspired me to live into my value, and to make conscious choices that demonstrate that value. Later that day, I did in fact make a conscious choice to demonstrate kindness by buying a stranger lunch.