Why do I do this to myself? I could have said no. Why didn’t I say no? They’re going to eat me alive!
My introverted self is verbally attacking the ambitious dynamo part of my personality. You see, go-getter me signed up for something that is now making me a little sick to my stomach.
I often feel like I am two people in one body. I’m a huge cheerleader for kindness. I will put myself out there any day of the week to persuade people that kindness can change a life. It’s changed my life. That’s why I’m so passionate. But deep down I’m an introverted, need-my-space, let’s just all quietly go about our business person.
That’s the side of my brain that’s freaking out right now.
Why? I’m so glad you asked.
I have agreed to talk to several hundred kids, kindergarten through sixth grade, at an all-school morning meeting. Twenty minutes, me with a microphone, and a bunch of kids who want to be at recess. What could possibly go wrong?
As I was pondering the idea of moving to a remote island, I stumbled across a few emails. They were from teachers who were sharing the development of character that happens when kids learn about kindness.
Here’s the first one. A friend of mine sent this about a high school student named Kate:
“Check this out! Kate’s advice to new high schoolers at orientation today was a call for kindness. ‘Be nice to people,’ she said. Her comment, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’ got a round of applause from the audience. What a great kid!”
Then I saw this email from a teacher named Becky Fisher:
“I wanted to share my experience with kindness. I have the privilege of working with Fargo middle school students. This past spring, my classes discussed Ron Clark’s ‘Essential 55′ rules. Rule No. 11 is about acts of kindness. These acts are not just simply picking up something that was dropped or holding open a door, but rather deliberate, thought-out acts, complete with an executable plan.
“After our discussion, I challenged my students to perform an act of kindness. One month later, I asked them to write about their experience.
“I was blown away at the depth of their commitment to being kind. Students cleaned the house and watched younger siblings. One boy put together an entertainment stand for his mother, while others cooked dinner for their family with dessert. Another student volunteered her time at a resale store and straightened shelves to make it easier for the shoppers.
“One girl, whose family had benefitted from the community’s help in the past, found someone going through similar circumstances. She created a silent auction item, then asked her mother to drive her to deliver it. The two of them were able to spend time with this hurting family and encourage them.
“These students came up with some thoughtful acts of kindness. I could not be more proud.”
I’m so glad these teachers took the time to share the impact of kindness on kids’ lives, because it changed my perspective.
I’m no longer fearful of losing control of an auditorium full of students. Instead, I will put on my cutest outfit, load up a bagful of props and march right on over to that school.
Because kindness matters.
If we won’t step out of our comfort zone and teach kids how much fun it is to be radically kind, who will? How will they ever learn?
So, I’m sorry, Introverted Self. This time, the kindness-loving go-getter wins out.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
To read all of Ron Clark’s “Essential 55” rules, visit ronclarkacademy.com.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.