Be a Sponge: Tap the Power of Kindness | Darren LaCroix

Be a Sponge: Tap the Power of Kindness

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking

I was invited to write a foreward for an upcoming book titled: You Have the Power of Kindness. Here is the foreward I wrote:

The words power and kindness are rarely joined in the same sentence. Let me ask you though, who was your favorite teacher growing up? Who was your favorite relative growing up? What is the deep reason behind your choice, chances are deep down they were kind to you. In fact kindness has such a deep power that as adults the memory is so pure and beautiful it stayed with you over decades. That is power.

Think of the favorite person you do business with? Who is that and why? We are not talking about the person who pretends to smile because it is their job, I mean the person who has sheer joy in kindness in serving you. We do business with people we respect, love and are kind to us even when maybe we don’t always deserve it.

Who comes to mind when you think of the word kindness? For me, it was my grandfather, Charlie. I called him Pepe’. He was a grammar school custodian and a crossing guard. Everyone loved Charlie. That’s because he gave kindness day in and day out. He always greeted everyone with a smile, every day. You never knew if he was having a bad day. I’m not sure he ever did. He loved his job and he loved the kids, so they loved him back. He spread kindness everyday day at that school until he had to retire. He then changed lanes and singing and dancing for retirement homes entertainment. He was a bit off key, but no one seemed to mind because his kindness was so apparent and so pure. He saw life through the eyes of kindness.

When I was getting stated in the speaking industry, I remember the words of my mentor, Patricia Fripp. She said her dad taught her to not worry about money, but instead to be the person people will want to do business with and the money will follow. She lived it. I was just a wannabe, yet she took the time to sit, talk and encourage me about my tiny accomplishments. She taught me to always be the meeting planner’s favorite. In my industry there is a lot of ego and pride. She taught me to differentiate through grace and kindness. She is one of the most remarkable women I ever met. She treated me with kindness when there was absolutely nothing I could have done for her. That kindness of hers got me to tell the world about her. What a beautiful investment that multiplied. Her dad was right.

Though I started in the comedy world, I’m a huge fan of humor. I discovered that comedy cuts down; humor lifts up. So does kindness, I believe, in a deeper, gentler way. When teaching my Humor Boot Camp® I have a favorite assignment I give out, just before lunch. I send attendees on a mission, to make a server smile.
They are to go out to have lunch at a restaurant and while ordering they are to sincerely ask the server what’s the silliest question they ever got at work? I ask attendees to then notice the demeanor of the server and how it changes.

When people come back from lunch they are usually excited to share their observations. Most everyone has a great story of the server coming back two or three times to tell them more they thought of. They tell stories of servers who then smile wide and open up. I’ve been told many times that they get amazing service and the server spends more time at their table. Often people say that they can tell they made the person’s day just by sincerely asking and listening.

It is the server’s job to serve. Many people being served are nice and some may be darn rude, but true kindness connects. It leaves a deep impression and can make person’s day brighter. One of the most important ways to be kind is to listen. Everyone has a need to be heard, but few listen.

When I reflect on kindness and its power I think of another hero of mine, Cavett Robert. Though he has passed his message of kindness remains. He was a legendary speaker and he would end his speeches the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson titled: The Lamplighter. In the old days in England the streets were illuminated at night with gas lamps. They were lit by a person one lamp at a time. Picture a cold dark street being brought to light one lamp at a time. Cavett said of the lamplighter, “You don’t know where he’s going, but you sure know where he’s been.”

It’s a crazy world we live in a world where everyone has an opinion and so many are passionately trying to prove they are right. Would you rather be right or kind? Though I’m far from perfect, I believe being kind is right. It is an investment that will come back to you.

As you read these heartwarming stories of kindness, I hope they not only light you up, but serve as example of new ways we can be lamplighters. Every day and through the seemingly expected opportunities all around us of people needing a kind word or a kind ear just to listen. Kindness connects.

I still remember my grandfather Pepe’ proudly driving around town in his car with a big sign on the back, that he had made himself that read, “Just married 62 years ago today!” As people read his sign they smiled. He was a lamplighter. How often are you?

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This is a foreward I was asked to write by Dana Morgan-Barnes for her new book You Have the Power of Kindness due to be released 8-22-18
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