Care Capsule

Kindness Notes from the Business World

You expect to hear comments and instructions on showing kindess from Dr. Jim Kok. You expect to hear them at the annual Kindness Conference, held each March at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. It is exciting, however, to see remarks of this nature in unexpected places.

Bill Gross, known as the Bond King and Chief Investment Officer of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), writes a monthly commentary for the financial market. His articles are directly related to bonds, interest rates, the impact of national and world events on the financial market, etc. However, his Investment Outlook, October 2005, which he entitled “Deliberate Acts of Kindness”, began with the following paragraphs:

An old and wise friend gave me some sage advice recently, “Be kind,” he said, “everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Life is a battlefield, although for some of us, including yours truly, it seems that fate has chosen marshmallows or water balloons instead of hand grenades and M-16s as the weapons of destruction. Still, we all suffer.

Coming into this world must have been no treat. Going out most definitely won’t be, and everything in between — well . . . the “eat, drink, and be merry” of Omar Khayyam is often overwhelmed by the pain of loss, personal debilitation, or simply the overwhelming deluge of circumstance. It’s under these conditions, as my friendly advice-giver would agree, that kindness is the temporary salve that heals. My wife, Sue, is the kindest person I have ever known; not because of publicized acts of generosity, of which there have been some, but because of everyday acts of kindness, of which there have been multitudes. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who would choose to be one of her best friends if the time were available — some on the A-list, but most of them category B’s and C’s: waiters, repairmen, average people with greater than average battles being fought behind sometimes cheerful façades. Sue brings music to their quiet desperation.

I have observed through her that being kind involves sacrificing the inward/personal moment for an outward-reaching smile. It includes a heartfelt, not conversationally correct, “how are you”, with more listening than talking. And it can involve, given enough hours in the day, a follow-up good deed or a simple reminder of empathy and caring.

Kindness comes in other forms, too. Jonas Salk was very kind, as are doctors, teachers, or any working person whose outward reach often exceeds personal gain. Lovingly raising a family is an act of kindness. People that write checks for Katrina or African relief are kind as well. I guess when you get down to it, kindness comes in many shapes, but the important thing is that it keeps coming.

We’re all fighting a battle, whether it be in New Orleans, Darfur, or Newport Beach, California. I’m going to try to be more like Sue, smile more often, extend an ear even during my busy day, and set a goal to become an Empathy Prince in addition to a Bond King. (Talk about reach exceeding your grasp!) Join me — if you’re not already there.

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