Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today's fortune: September 18, 2011

Today's fortune: From now on your kindness will lead you to success.

I've had several fortunes about kindness, and even more about success, but today those two ideals, which shouldn't be conflicting at all, come together. But they are conflicting sometimes, especially when you consider that the most successful business tycoons in the world seem to buy into Leo Durocher's "nice guys finish last" mentality.

But I think most reasonable people believe you can be nice and successful. Just ask Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, who calls for people to have simple "human decency." He's right. There's nothing to lose by being kind to people, and nothing to gain through meanness.

After opening this fortune, I Googled two words together: "kindness" and "success." One of the first things I found was this website promoting a book called "Capitalizing on Kindness: Why 21st Century Professionals Need To Be Nice." This local TV interview with the author is a little bit on the cheesy side, thanks to host extraordinaire Brad Pomerance, but if you can stomach it there's a good lesson to be had here, and a self-exam to determine if you're being kind in a way that will gain you success:

If you didn't watch the video, here's a breakdown of the author's five questions to ask yourself in a diagnosis of corporate kindness:

1. Do you have a reputation for kindness?

2. Do you have a positive, likable personality?

3. Do you have an ample reciprocity reserve built from past kindnesses?

4. Do you use "thanks" effectively?

5. Do you emphasize cooperation over competition?

In the past, the one I struggled with the most was No. 4. Thanking people is extremely difficult, especially in a corporate setting: if people are doing their jobs, many believe a thank-you is not necessary. And it's not. But thank-yous sure do help. And they make people feel good.

I think all of us could learn from a kindness self-diagnosis. Ask yourself those questions and see where you come out.

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