Many thanks to Liz Scott for this guest blog. Liz is from ‘Liz Scott Coaching and Training’ and she has a vision to bring coaching to every UK school. She has seen how leadership coaching and coaching skills training can transform communication and learning and wants to make coaching accessible to everyone in education. Contact Liz if you would like to be part of this vision http://www.lizscottcoaching.com
We bumped into a neighbour the other day. He was off walking with a rucksack on his back. We live on the edge of Dartmoor, so were fully expecting him to tell us he was off for a day on the moors. With a cheerful smile he informed us he wasn’t trekking across the moors, he was off to pick up some litter. He had noticed some rubbish in the hedgerow whilst driving home and he had decided to set out to pick it up. His cheerful expression and complete lack of blame or grumbling were both a surprise and delight.
It is amazing how a simple story like this can be inspiring. My husband and I left him and continued our walk feeling really inspired about what he was off to do. We often complain to each other that people leave litter, however, we don’t do anything about it ourselves. Small gestures can have a big impact.
Then the other day I received a book out of the blue. It arrived in the post from a friend. She had accidently ordered two copies – rather than ask for her money back she popped the spare copy in the post and it landed up on my doormat. There is nothing so lovely as a complete surprise. To make it even sweeter, I was going through a bit of a rough patch and the book was on a subject that lifted my spirits.
The Dalai Lama bases his whole philosophy on kindness. Whereas many of us are complicating our lives, he seems have a very simple outlook. He says, “This is my religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
So what is an act of kindness? After a bit of Internet research I found many examples and they were varied. There were people giving big tips to needy waitresses – other people returning lost wallets, with the money inside. Sometimes the story is very simple, a man rushing off a tube train to return a glove to its owner, or a stray dog being fed and given a loving home. There are probably thousands of acts of kindness that happen every day and they all make a difference.
An act of kindness is like a throwing a stone in a pond. The act itself can be quite small, but the ripple effects can have a bit impact. This is particularly true in the story of Billy Ray Harris. He was a homeless man in the US and spent his day collecting change from people passing by. At the end of this particular day, when he went to count up his money he found a diamond ring which had accidently fallen in to his collecting cup. He went to get the ring valued (it was worth about $4000) but rather than sell it, he decided to try and reunite it with its owner. Sarah had never expected to see the ring again. She didn’t even know how or where she had lost it. She was amazed and delighted when Billy Ray returned it to her.
The ripple effect of this story is that Sarah and her fiancée were so touched by the honesty of Billy Ray, that they set up a collection for him, which raised nearly $200,000 – enough money to get him off the street and reunite him with his family.
There is a quote by Aesop, which says: “No act of kindness, not matter how small, is ever wasted.” Maybe it’s worth remembering how powerful a small act of kindness actually is.
Life isn’t made of grand gestures; it is made of small consistent kindnesses. It is so important to never forget the power of a smile, or a hello or a helping hand.
I found an old love poem the other day. I had written it as a teenager – I can no longer remember who it was about! However at the time I was obviously smitten (although he never reciprocated my advances). It made me wonder about this thing called love.
What is love? It is a question I asked my husband as he peeled potatoes one night. He looked at me and said wisely; “It is nothing and it is everything.” I asked him what he meant and he went on to explain.
He said that it’s nothing in sense of being anything tangible you can hold; love isn’t a physical entity. Yet it is the thing that makes us alive and brings everything to life. . He went on to say that it doesn’t matter about the weather, politics, stresses or other challenges; if love is embedded in your life then actually you have got everything.
I was slightly taken aback by his response. I’m not sure I could have been so eloquent had I been asked the same question. Love is a funny thing. Thousands of songs, films and books have been written about it and yet it is quite an elusive concept.
You may not think that ‘love’ would be much talked about in the cut and thrust of football. However, Plymouth Argyle’s new coaching appointment, John Harbin, is clear that love is at the heart of his coaching philosophy. In an interview he said, “The one thing I know is that if you love the people you work with, you play with, you live with then you’ll achieve more. The ruthless businessman will laugh at what I say, but the bottom line is the only people you’ll die for are you family, so I think love is the greatest motivator in the world.”
John Harbin goes on to say that he treats the players first as human beings and secondly as footballers.
I rather like John Harbin’s ideas. What would it be like if we placed love at the heart of everything we did? What if it wasn’t just something we kept exclusively for friends and family?
I wonder what businesses would be like if they had love at the forefront of their philosophy. Love isn’t something to be embarrassed about. It isn’t a pink and fluffy concept for tree huggers. Love is a vital and elemental part of human nature. I wonder if the time is right for more people to be brave and talk about love.