Kindness and gratitude when the world has gone mad
It’s hard. Those of us who run small service businesses have to find a way of staying centred when it seems the world has gone mad.
We would have to have hearts of stone to not be overwhelmed by the horror of terrorist acts, floods wiping out whole cities, fires, child abuse, femicide and war in our news feeds. If you’re anything like me, your feeling that it would be a damn fine idea to crawl under a rock. Self-preservation and all that.
But running a service business means that our clients need us and that we have to find a way of staying centred to keep going.
With years of activism and advocacy behind me, I’ve learnt a few methods to stay in balance, to look after me while serving others and working towards a better world.
Kindness and gratitude are powerful tools:
Being kind to me, those around me and the world, and staying focused on gratitude.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, has demonstrated the power of leading with kindness, compassion and deep ethics in the face of horror. Imagine if each of us aimed to be just a bit like her. Imagine if we brought those qualities to our work. The world would be so much easier to wake up to each day.
And gratitude. Practising gratitude is well-researched practice for staying centred and warding off overwhelm.
As I’m 55, I wrote 55 things I’m grateful for:
You might want to do the same.
- Being alive – many people don’t make it to my age
- Walking every day – they’re my sanity.
- Muscles – they’re amazing when they work well.
- All the music I’ve ever listened to – time well spent.
- Each night of dancing – and there’ve been many.
- Every hug and every kiss.
- My career – a chance to make lasting change.
- Being an author – the privilege of writing and being read.
- My special colleagues – they make me feel like I’m not working when I am.
- The internet – the chance to stay connected across the globe.
- My child – I can’t measure my gratitude for him.
- My partner – the miracle of finding each other in this big and changing world. Relief, belonging, adventure and love.
- Meeting Mandela – just that.
- My mentors – they paved the way for my book, The Mentor Within.
- My siblings – they’re part of my soul, and their ‘spice’ (spouses).
- My mum – my role model, friend, connection to all things previous.
- My dad – my rock, and the gentlest, most attentive soul.
- Marjorie – my childhood nanny, my special friend.
- School teachers – the good, the bad and the slightly ugly, but mostly the good.
- My roots – knowing where I come from.
- My wings – flying the nest was one of the most important things I’ve done.
- My country of birth – South Africa will always be the land of my soul.
- My adopted country – I am truly one of the lucky ones, living in The Lucky Country.
- My clients – they provide life-long learning and inspiration.
- The causes I choose to align to – Aboriginal language revitalisation, Disability Rights, Life Design, social entrepreneurship, Juvenile Justice, marketing of social causes, older women at work, older women’s contribution, prevention of gender violence, children’s rights … Without these causes, my work would have no meaning.
- The formal venues – hotels, reception rooms, halls, and offices.
- The informal venues – that meeting in Malawi with 200 people under a tree.
- Coffee shops – more times than I can count, with more care than I can measure.
- Pay – money is a great tool.
- Keyboards – and fingers that type fast thanks to piano training.
- Online groups – forget the trolls, I love the participation and sense of belonging.
- Stationery – just that.
- YouTube – to watch dance and comedy in work breaks.
- PowerPoint – not death by PowerPoint, but well used, strategic PowerPoint.
- Aeroplanes – so I can work all over, especially regional Australia.
- My car.
- Trains – to get to where I need to go, but mostly to inspire my transport crazy son.
- Video calls – being everywhere without leaving my seat.
- Hubs – I like collaborative hubs.
- A magnificent home office.
- Facebook and LinkedIn – my international community and my work community.
- All my basic needs being met – water, sanitation, food, shelter, and medical care.
- Friends – far-flung and close by, from childhood and recent connections.
- Oatley – my geographical community, my neighbourhood.
- The Walking Tribe – my community of accountability, affirmation, and celebration.
- Calendars – how else would we remember what to do when?
- Champions – people who love what I do and promote my work.
- Nature – Australian parrots, deep forests, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and animals.
- Water – being in it, and on it.
- Safety – it’s a right, but at times it feels like a privilege.
- Decisiveness – being able to choose how to make a positive impact on the world and doing it.
- Smallville – the chance to be heard by a community of small business people who think big.
- Jacinda Ardern – kindness personified.
Now go and write your list. Print it, stick it above your desk, and whenever the world gets too much for you and shakes your ability to stay centred, read it.
And don’t forget kindness. It’s the simple shifts in work and life that make the greatest impact.