Episode 220 – How Kindness Can Change Your World
Rob Shallenberger: Hello to our Becoming Your Best friends, wherever you are in the world! This is Rob Shallenberger and I’m hoping you are having a great day! It’s a beautiful spring day in Utah. We’ve got sunny skies, a 60° weather – for those outside the US, 60° Fahrenheit – it’s a beautiful day here!
This is going to be one of those quick podcasts, and I just want to really share a couple of insights that I hope that while it might be quick, it can still be very powerful and have a big impact in your life. About five years ago, I had the chance to meet Famous Dave. If you’ve ever heard of Famous Dave’s Barbecue, he owns a big chain of barbecue restaurants throughout the United States. For those who are outside the US, he’s managed to create this very successful chain over the course of several decades. Well, this event where I met him, he was asked, “Dave, what is the secret of your success?” His response was interesting to me. His response was that he had been investing in himself since he was 20 years old. He would invest up to even $100,000 to get a coach who would just give him one idea. He’s attended masterminds all over the world; he said that he’s flown to China because he heard that there was an amazing barbecue recipe there and he had to try it for himself. So, if there is something out there where he can just get one nugget, one improvement, that’s all he’s looking for. And then, his following comment was even more intriguing. He said, “Can you imagine the compounding effect of just one idea per coach or one idea per mastermind or one idea per conference? It’s been exponential!” Everything in his chain of restaurants that has helped him be successful has come from someone else, in most cases, according to him – that one idea from a coach, a mastermind, etc.
So, from this podcast, I’d invite you to do the same thing – just look for that one quick thing that can help you improve just slightly more than you are currently today in your life – just that one little thing. It shouldn’t be too hard, because I’m going to make a couple of specific invitations and this will be pretty quick. Have you ever heard the old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear? Well, something in my life has been showing up over and over and over again over the last few weeks and I don’t know if that’s just me being the willing student or if that is God showing me something that is important right now in my life that I need to focus on. I don’t know. But I don’t attribute these kinds of things to coincidence. I believe that they happen for a reason.
I was doing a keynote at a conference in California a couple of weeks ago, and the other person who was there keynoting it – whose name I wish I could remember, but I don’t have it off the top of my head – his whole keynote was all about kindness, and he was talking about the power of kindness and how that’s transformed his life, by simply being kind to others. He used to be a fairly intense person, it was all about him, he attempted suicide, but it was this shift to focusing on treating other people right – which, ironically, is Principle #5 of the 12 Principles, “Live the Golden Rule.” So, there’s a great power in that. We’ve done other podcasts on this principle as well. I just found it interesting that I was there and I happened to listen to his keynote, and really enjoyed it, and it caused me to think. What I’m about to share, there’s no boasting in this at all, because there’s so many people who do so much more and have much kinder and more giving hearts.
Right after I heard his keynote, I had to fill up the car with gas – I had another couple of hours before my keynote, and then it was going to be a tight turn at the airport. Well, I had this nice blanket that was given to me as a gift while we were there. So, I went to fill up the car with gas and I’m just hashing over what he had said, in my mind, about being kind to others and all the benefits that come to us from being kind. I looked over while I was filling up my car with gas and there was this homeless lady sitting on the corner. The weather was nice, but it was clear that she was in a pretty rough place in her life. She was probably 60 years old, somewhere in there, looking pretty rough; just everything about her seemed pretty rough. So, I had this thought, “I don’t really need this blanket. Why don’t I give it to her?” So, I walked over and handed her this blanket and she had a big smile on her face and she said, “Oh, thank you!” It was a nice blanket – it was one of those really comfortable kinds that you rub your fingers through – and she was so appreciative and that smile was worth just about a piece of gold. It really touched me; her smile, her laughter, and just her gratitude that she had right there.
I walked back to the car, not thinking much about it other than, you feel good inside when you do those kinds of things – little things. This guy came over and he said, “She’s there every day. That was so cool, man – what you didn’t!” and he gave me a little fist bump. And the truth is, there’s so many people that devote so much more time to kindness; that was one simple little act, but it really stuck with me – her smile and the feeling that came along with it – and that’s why I said that if the student is ready, the teacher can appear. So, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I happened to be sitting there listening to his keynote while I was waiting to get my keynote; I don’t think it’s a coincidence that that lady just happened to be there to give me the opportunity to do something very small that she may or may not even remember, but that I certainly will, because of her smile. Just that simple smile and her look when she looked into my eyes.
And then, it went a little bit further than that. Going from there, I was on a flight coming back from New York. I don’t know if you’ve seen this new Mr. Rogers movie – it’s an awesome movie! I mentioned it to my kids and I mentioned the name Mr. Rogers, and all of my kids looked at me and said, “Who’s Mr. Rogers?” That’s one of the first signs that you’re getting old is when nobody else remembers who Mr. Rogers is. So, I’m going to assume that you, listening to this, know who Mr. Rogers is; if you don’t, go look him up, and it would be worth your time to look him up and watch this movie. So, anyway, here’s the movie about Mr. Rogers, it’s a great movie, and it’s just about the power of kindness and how genuinely, while he’s not a perfect person, even he would say that he struggled with temper, but yet, he found a way to work through it in his own life. He was so genuinely kind to others. The movie – when you watch the movie, I won’t tell you all about it – is based on a true story. There was a reporter who was known for just being tough, really hard on people; he’d write these articles on people and he was just really brutal as he’d go after them, trying to expose some negative aspect of their life or their success. And anyway, he was assigned to write an article on Mr. Rogers. As he got to know him, the tables turned. This guy was estranged from his father, he no longer had a relationship with his father – in fact, he hated his father – and Mr. Rogers, through his kindness, just totally turned the tables on this guy; and not with any hidden agenda other than that’s who Mr. Rogers was. He listened, he cared, and he completely changed this guy’s life. And because of Mr. Rogers and his kindness and his willingness to listen, this reporter who was writing the article on Mr. Rogers went back and repaired the relationship with his father, which wasn’t easy, and I don’t want to ruin the movie and tell you how it all happened – you can watch that. But the point was, again, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Here I am, looking and watching another movie about kindness, and man, there were points where I had tears coming down my cheeks just watching this on my Delta flight. I came back and I started to listen to my kids just slightly different that day. “Sounds like it was a pretty frustrating experience, Bella.” “Well…” and then they continue to talk. Rather than trying to solve their problems or anything else, I’m just being kind and listening. We’re not perfect, we all have challenges. I love what Vince Lombardi said when he took over the Green Bay Packers: “In our pursuit to be better people, better leaders, better spouses, parents, managers, co-workers, etc., we know we’re not going to be perfect” – and this quote fits perfectly. He said, “We are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it because, in the process, we will catch excellence. And I am not remotely interested in just being good.”
That’s my feeling on this! I’m not remotely interested in just being good anymore. We’re going to chase perfection. Even though we know we’re not going to catch it, we know that we will catch excellence in the process; we will become better than we currently are today! And that’s why I love the 12 Principles, and especially, in this particular scenario that I’m talking about right now – kindness. This is something that I feel like almost all of us, across the board, could not only use more of in our lives, but we could be more kind to others in this process. It’s a pretty tough world in which we live right now and it could use a lot more of this.
So, let me use one more example here, as we go through this. I was just doing a four-hour training, yesterday, for all of these Utah government leaders – they had driven from all over the different municipalities, the towns. We focused on Lead with a Vision, Manage with a Plan, Roles and Goals, Pre-week Planning, Treating People Right, and How to Build and Maintain Trust. It was interesting, you know, with a group of people – like I said, there were about 150 people in the room – and I could just tell they were engaged, they were loving it, as anybody would. Many people listening to this have been through the seminars and you know how powerful the Principles are. So, when we talked about developing a written personal vision, I could tell they’re just deep in this, loving it and it was very introspective for them. And then, they started working on their roles and goals, and almost everyone in the room I could just see they’re really deep in thought and it was moving for them. They’re just having a great experience, except this one guy. And in a group of 100, it’s almost always like there’s one person – 99 out of 100 you can see they’re engaged, they’re smiling, they’re really processing it, it’s a moving and powerful experience for them. But I’m always looking for that one because it seems like there’s one in 100. I can tell when I make eye contact with them. Their body language is different.
And so, sure enough, I found my one. He was sitting there and he kind of had his arms crossed a little bit and he was not really participating. Everyone else was in their writing, you could tell they’re deep in thought. He was just not there. So, I watched him over the course of 30 minutes, and just nothing. I could tell he’s closed for whatever reason. This is not the first time I’ve seen this, there’s usually some reasons for this. When a person develops a written personal vision, and they’re thinking about their roles and goals, for most people, that is thrilling, it’s exciting, it’s powerful. But there are some for who that evokes a really powerful and deep emotion, and they’re not ready for it. Anyway. So, I walked over to this guy, and I think maybe a month ago, I would have kind of gone after him a little bit, “What’s going on?” But, in the spirit of Mr. Rogers, in the spirit of this kindness keynote, in the spirit of that smile that that lady had given me on the corner, I approached this gentleman differently. In the spirit of Mr. Rogers, clearly, there’s something happening internally – I’m not going to go after him, I just want to simply listen.
So, I just touched him lightly on the shoulder while everyone else was working on an activity, I walked off the stage and came down and just quietly in his ear so that no one else would notice or hear, I said, “It seems like maybe this isn’t really resonating with you for some reason.” And then, he just paused. He looked at me said, “No, this is fabulous! I’ve never seen content presented that’s so good as this thing. It’s just really deeply emotional for me.” And I could see his lips start to quiver, and his cheeks and tears welling up in his eyes. And again, I’m just listening. A month ago, I would have been right into problem-solving mode. Right now, I’m thinking Mr. Rogers, kindness, keynote, the lady on the corner. So, I just asked him, “It sounds like this is deeply emotional. I’m just trying to listen.” This is not necessarily my personality to do this, but it was so good for me to do that. He really had tears now coming down his cheeks, and he’s like, “I know this is important. It’s just so emotional for me right now.” And at that point, I had to go back on stage, and I just quietly put my arm around him and gave him a hug, saying, “Brother, I’m with you! Let’s talk before you leave” and I walked away.
But it was a different feeling. I didn’t go into that conversation with any agenda other than to listen and seek to understand, and this has really had a big impact on the last maybe three to four weeks of my life. And so, I don’t know who this podcast is for out there; it’s as much for me as for anyone, but when the student is ready, the teacher seems to appear, and for me, the teacher seems to be kindness. And I do think that God has His hand in this, that this is something that’s important to me in my life right now. And maybe this could resonate for someone out there; maybe kindness is the answer for you right now – trying to listen without any intent to solve someone’s problem, treating other people right, looking for the opportunities to lift and to serve, being more attentive to this.
We were just in Washington DC last week for our public two-day conference; when we got to the end of Principle #5 – Live the Golden Rule, I asked everyone to take out their phones. I haven’t done this in three years – the last time I did what I’m about to share was in Banff, Canada for a keynote there, but I just felt this impression like I should do this. So I said, “Everyone, take out your phones. I just have a feeling that we should send a text message to someone who’s important to you in your life, and tell them how much you appreciate them. If appropriate, tell them how much you love them.” And this business owner, sitting over to my left said, “Are you clairvoyant?” I said, “No, I just try to respond to these feelings.” Because literally, 30 seconds prior to me saying it, he said, “I had the feeling that I should do exactly that.” So, we paused and everyone took about a minute to do that. And they sent their text and I said, “Look, you’re not sending this text right now with any hope of a response. They may or may not respond to you. That’s not why you’re sending the text. This is not to seek some sort of approval or compliment back. This is purely to give. It’s purely kindness, it’s purely love.” I don’t know who responded, other than one person. The next day he showed me the response, and I actually had him read it for the group – it was from his mother in law. He texted his mother-in-law when everybody else sent the text, and he just told her how much he loved her. He didn’t get a response from her until the next morning, and she said, “Wow! That was so kind of you to send that and so sensitive!” And then, she mentioned a couple of other things. But I thought that didn’t take anybody in the room longer than 30 seconds to do.
And so, while we’re not going to be perfect in this life, if we will focus on these 12 Principles of which this is just one: kindness, and living the golden rule and treating people right, while we’re not going to achieve perfection, these pursuits will help us catch excellence and live a much happier, more fulfilled and deeply satisfying life. And for me, I think I needed to be the student over the last few weeks in this. There have just been too many places where I’ve seen examples of kindness, and it’s really touched me deeply and caused me to reflect, who am I? How am I treating people? It’s caused a whole other layer of just deepness in my life and happiness.
So, I hope that’s for someone out there, whether it’s in the Philippines or South Africa, South America, Russia – wherever you’re listening to this – that it will resonate with someone, that there’s something you can do for someone in your life, to be more kind to them. Maybe that means letting go of something, letting go of judgment, letting go of someone that hurt you somewhere along the way in your life, and working through that. Maybe send a text to someone that you love, and you haven’t shared that with them in a long time. I mentioned that the last time I had done that was in Banff, Canada. And when I did do that, I had them all send a text, just like I did here in DC, and this guy came up afterwards, and he said, “That’s the first time I’ve told my son, in years and years and years, that I love him. That was a really hard text to send, but I was almost overcome when I sent it because it needed to be said.” That’s the idea!
So, thank you so much for listening to this podcast. It was short – 16 minutes. In the spirit of Famous Dave, if we can just exponentially get one idea from each of these, that’s where we get that kind of growth that becomes “exponential”. And so, I thank you for taking the time for this podcast. You’re the ones that make this Becoming Your Best movement happen. We love you and we appreciate you; we hope you have a fabulous week, and remember, one person can make a difference!