If I asked you to commit an act of kindness today would you know what to do?
You would, wouldn’t you? In going through your day with that intention you would likely encounter an abundance of opportunities to be kind in word and deed.
What if leading could be that simple?
That is the inquiry I began in June of 2006 when my dad, Jim Ernst, passed away. You see he had left a newspaper clipping for us to find called “To Remember Me…” by Robert Noel Test. The last line reads:
“If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all that I have asked, I will live forever.”
He had given us the perfect way to remember him, so at his memorial service we asked people to commit an act of kindness in his memory.
Over the next few months I took on the practice of committing random acts of kindness.
What I observed got me thinking.
…Could committing an act of leadership be as simple as committing an act of kindness?
…What’s the difference between the two?
I started to consider that perhaps committing an act of kindness is in and of itself an act of leadership.
On a number of occasions, while my motive was to be kind, I noticed my actions caused others to behave differently and even work together for a common goal. What seems to be the common thread is the commitment to making a difference. In committing an act of kindness we are reminded that the “small stuff” really matters.
I believe the same is true in leading – it is often the small stuff, the simple actions you take, the words you say to one person at a time every day that make the biggest difference of all.
If you want to be a leader in any given moment, all it takes is a willingness to speak up, step up or stand up for whatever matters most to you.
It may not always be easy, but it really can be that simple.
My father was a leader in everyday life. The world does not know who he is. He will not be named in any history books. Yet for the people whose lives he touched the history books do not matter. It was his actions both big and small that did. He taught me that the purpose of life was to make the biggest difference you could make in whatever you do.
Random Acts of Leadership in all of its expressions is dedicated to his memory. It is my wish that when I close my eyes for the last time I will be able to honestly say I made the biggest difference I could make.
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