Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Be Kind valentine heart graphicWe’ve all seen stories in the news of how the pandemic has brought out the worst in people. From abusive passengers on airplanes to impatient and rude customers in short-staffed restaurants. To the latter, some business owners are putting signs on their front doors such as “Be Kind to Our Staff” with the hope it will help keep valued employees from unpleasant experiences and quitting their job.

There is an unforgettable story about Abraham Lincoln. It seems that there was an elderly woman who made an appointment to see him one day. I can well imagine the courage that took. When she entered the President’s office, he rose and asked her to have a seat and then asked, as he did routinely of all people who came to see him, “Madam, how may I be of service to you?” The shy woman said quietly, “Mr. President, you must be such a busy man. I didn’t come to ask anything of you. I hear that you like this special kind of cookie…and I just wanted to bring you some that I baked especially for you.”

Silence followed, and tears overflowed in Mr. Lincoln’s eyes. It was a while before he could speak. But eventually he answered, “Madam, I thank you for your thoughtful gift. I am so very moved by it. During all of my presidency, people have come to my office asking for favors and even demanding them from me. But you are the very first person who has ever come to my office asking nothing, expecting nothing, but rather bringing me a gift. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

We all know the association of the month of February with Valentine’s Day, love, couples, and happy relationships. But did you know that the saint we celebrate on Valentine’s Day is known officially as Saint Valentine of Rome in order to differentiate him from numerous other St. Valentines. Because of the abundance of St. Valentines in Roman Catholic history, you can choose to celebrate multiple times a year, but why wait?

Choose to show kindness first and often. Show kindness and bring out the best in others. When someone is kind to you, be sure to go out of your way to express your gratitude. While strong leaders are better positioned to set the tone and inspire others, remember that showing kindness and expressing gratitude knows no job titles. Whether you’re the president of the company, a shop floor supervisor, or a recent hire, simple (and sometimes random) acts of kindness will boost morale, build trust, and ultimately, energize others around you. One act of kindness and the showing of gratitude will lead to more of the same. Do your part to help make it contagious within your team, your workplace, and your life.