Blog Post Cover Art: Two hands holding another in sympathy with blog overlay text "What's Your Kindness Quotient?"

 … The other day, I was listening to the radio, and the host began the segment by asking, “What’s your KQ?” After a few seconds of silence, she went on to explain that KQ is Kindness Quotient. Understanding, and cultivating kindness is a growing trend. I’m 100% in.

Understanding KQ

For years, in the business world, we’ve heard about terms about our IQ (Intelligence) and EQ (Emotional) resilience. We’ve examined grit. Studies have been done on leadership capacity. You can get a degree in change management.

But recently, I came across the idea of KQ (Kindness Quotient) while listening to the radio, and I’m 100% in favor of this.

… being kind is linked to being happy. In her research, Sonya Lyubomirsky, a University of California-Riverside psychologist, found that practicing acts of kindness (as well as expressing thankfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness ) was common among happy people. Kindness seems to have a rebound effect, creating an endless loop of positivity …

(Source) Blog Post Cover Art: Two hands holding another in sympathy with blog overlay text "What's Your Kindness Quotient?"

I’m a huge fan of gratitude and think that consciously expressing thankfulness creates and generates more to be thankful for.

Apparently, kindness works the same way.

Intentionally expressing an act of kindness to someone generates more kindness in the world.

Random Acts of Kindness

As a child, I remember the call of a well-intentioned teacher urging me to “Go RAK someone today.” That is, engage in a random act of kindness. Their belief was that if I could do that, I would feel good, someone else would benefit, and the world would be a better place.

We even kept a RAK chart so we could see who RAK’d the most people in a given week.

Maybe she was on to something …

And now more than ever, the world seems to need a little bit of kindness.

Societal unrest.

Political Turmoil

COVID Pandemic

Fear-Filled News Cycles

Natural Disasters

The world appears to be in trouble.

And while I’m not entirely sure what kindness could do to stop a hurricane, I know kindness could help solve the rest of the problems on the list … and go a long way in recovering from a hurricane.

What’s Your Kindness Quotient (KQ)

So, what’s your KQ level?

Can you tell?

I’d like to think I’m a kind person, and show generosity, compassion, grace, and positivity in the world, but do I?

How can I tell?

In coaching, we talk a lot about investing our time and energy into the right pursuits. During one activity, we look at ways to analyze our calendar and our task list to see if our values and our time are lining up.

In many ways, we can measure kindness in the same way. Can you look back on your time, and just like you scheduled time to exercise, have dinner, return emails, and attend your kid’s practice, did you schedule a time to be kind?

Did you keep it front of mind?

Do you challenge yourself to grow and expand your capabilities?

In a world focused on division, dis-unity, and discord, focus instead on being kind, generous, compassionate, and proactively positive.

So, what’s your kindness quotient?

Blog post cover art, a picture of an elephant with overlay text that says don't be a circus elephant

In a world that has trained you to be afraid, to doubt, and to limit yourself my advice is simple: don’t be a circus elephant.

The Elephant and the Rope

There’s a rather famous story floating around about how baby elephants were trained for the circus.

In short: baby elephants learn their boundaries by being chained to a stake in the ground. As little elephants, they can’t break free and learn they can only go so far.

By the time they are adults, the chain has been exchanged for a tiny rope, but the same (now self-imposed) limit still applies. The young elephant learned, “I can only go so far” and it never ventures to try anything new.

The adult elephant is capable of breaking free from the tiny rope, yet it never does.

Why?  Blog post cover art, a picture of an elephant with overlay text that says don't be a circus elephant

Because that’s the power of false beliefs.

The False Narrative

When our kids were younger, we told them Bongo stories. In the stories, Bongo was their dog that was big enough to ride on. They would zoom around their Kingdom rescuing animals in need.

In every story, I would describe the adjectives the kids would need to complete their mission.

Kindness.

Love.

Compassion.

Justice.

The list complied was designed to teach them the values, attitudes, and habits we wanted to instill in them.

This was done because of the powerful shaping effect of story.

Plus, it counters the false narratives that we as adults know all too well.

“I can’t.”

“I’m too dumb.”

Clumsy old me.”

Every day, we bombard ourselves with narratives and adjectives about how limited we are. And, just like the elephant, we never break free of those limitations believing we can only go so far.

Only have a certain amount of success.

We falsely believe the little rope of lies telling us we can’t be more, do more, have more, or love more.

It’s time to break free.

Breaking Free

In coaching, we talk about breaking free of limiting beliefs through three C’s of action.

 

Community

The first is to be surrounded by community. Hear the voice and perspective of people who can see your true nature, gifts, abilities, and potential. Surround yourself with the positive people who want and see great things for you.

Competency

Discovering your true gifts and calling is another way to break free. Do you do what you love becuase you’re really good at it and enjoy it … or because you’re trying to earn someone’s affection? Knowing your true skills creates a passionate pursuit of of growth and limitless influence.

Compassion

Look. We’re all going to screw up. In those moments of failure, having compassion on yourself is vital. Know your standard, live up to your standard, but have grace on yourself when you mess up. Learn where you went wrong, and correct the problem.

In your quest for personal growth, never believe you have to settle. Don’t be a circus elephant.

Girl biting limp and thinking, wondering how she can stay curious

I may not always learn new things, but when I do, it’s because I stay curious.

My blatant rip-off of the most interesting man, may not be a quote that makes me famous, but it does provide the foundation for the growth needed in life.

Curiosity is a habit and a mindset that keeps leaders humble and gives them the ability to assess a situation, appreciate perspective, and continue towards growth.

Stay Curious

“I know how to do it!”

I’ve heard that phrase more than a few times from my kids, only to watch them struggle with tying their shoes, washing the dishes, folding their laundry, or any other number of tasks.

It’s a common problem, right?

As much as I’ve seen it in my kids, I’ve also noticed that problem in myself.

In my almost ten years of professional coaching, I’ve come across similar problems in people. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve coached who were unhappy in their jobs and looking to make a career change. Girl biting limp and thinking, wondering how she can stay curious

And when I assume I know what the answer is, I’ve always been wrong. When I’ve remained curious and allowed the client to dictate the direction of the conversation, not only do they come to a better conclusion, but I learn something new in the process as well.

My ability to stay curious benefits both me and my clients.

As leaders, staying curious benefits us, and those we lead.

Leadership Curiosity

Leadership curiosity manifests anytime we set aside our preconceived notions and explore possibilties with our teams.

In short, we stay curious when we ask questions.

  • What would that look like?
  • Who do we know that can help?
  • How can I serve you?
  • Where can we find the answers?
  • What makes this important?
  • Are we willing to fight for this?

The more questions we ask, the more curious we are, the better the end result will be.

Leadership curiosity includes our team members, equips them for the journey ahead, inspires action, and leverages critical thinking skills.

How will you stay curious this week?

Frustrated woman with glasses pushed up her forehead asking what do I do when I'm feeling stuck?

One of the most popular questions I get is, “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?”

It’s a question based on motivation. The question really being asked is, “How do I overcome my lack of motivation?”

I get it.

I struggle with motivation too.

Honestly, if I worked out when I was motivated, I’d work out maybe twice a week. More than likely, once. (Or none at all!)

Motivation, outside of the beginning thrust on a new and exciting project, is largely useless in personal development.

Instead, we need to rely on discipline. Building a life of discipline is simple (not necessarily easy), but it is rewarding.

Here are three ways to build a life of discipline:

1.) Create clear and compelling goals

As I’ve written about before, clear and compelling goals are the greatest asset you have to overcome the lack of motivation.

Good goals are SMARTER

Specific Frustrated woman with glasses pushed up her forehead asking what do I do when I'm feeling stuck?

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Timely

Energizing

Rewarding

A lack of motivation could mean that our goals aren’t clear enough. A bigger problem is that we don’t reward ourselves for a job well done. As Shawn Achor highlights in his TEDTalk (and amazing book), by failing to reward ourselves for achieving our goals, we subtly teach our brains that our work doesn’t matter. In other words, by failing to reward our progress we learn that progress doesn’t matter.

Our brain says, “What’s the point?” and gives up.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” create clear, simple, and compelling goals.

2.) Be a Part of a Community

It’s hard to go it alone. Whether you’re an entrepreneur growing a business, a spouse improving a marriage, or a coach in athletics, you can’t do the journey of life alone.

Find a supportive community to help.

A community provides support, encouragement, perspective, and wisdom. It gives us strength when we are weak and positivity in a world filled with the negative.

A community of like-minded voices gives us the endurance and accountability to press on when we feel like giving up.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” find others to walk the journey with you.

3.) Hire a Coach

A lot of coaching is accountability. More than the community, a good coach asks reflective questions, highlights understanding, deepens insight, and inspires action.

Great coaches help you see through your own bias, false beliefs, internal narratives, and weak spots. They equip you with the tools to overcome those rough edges. They leave you accountable to your action plan.

Just last week I was working with a client who didn’t complete all of his growth homework for the week. After talking about it, we discovered that it was an important goal, but not the most important.

Instead, before hiring another employee (his task he gave himself for the week) he needed to free up time in his calendar (his new task). With more free time, he would be able to get new business, get caught up on billing, and have space to mentor and onboard effectively. Completing these tasks would ultimately do much more than “hire an employee” and instead give him the capacity to build his business.

That’s a much more effective use of time!

Coaches can shorten the time it takes to learn tasks, complete projects, and accelerate to succes.

Looking for any of those? I’d love to walk with you on that journey.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” hire a coach!

The mental health of a leader encompasses everything they do to stay at peak performance and elite levels of people development. Leadership mental health is the foundation to sustainable excellence.

Beginning in Coaching

I fell in love with coaching because it gave me something tangible to work towards. Fresh out of my master’s program and stepping into a new workplace, it was actually required that I have a coach for the first year of employment. They paid for it, I benefited from it.

Tremendously.

Little did I know that at 24, it would be a life-changing experience.

My first coach, Jeff, helped me see the bigger side of life and leadership. Leaders struggle and leaders fall. Because of this, leaders can’t bear the weight of responsibility themselves.

Good leaders surround themselves with others. Those that will both listen and challenge. Strong leaders embrace the chance to be pushed and to be bettered.

Most of all, leaders take their own growth seriously.

The Faces of Mental Health

Mental health, like a diamond, has many faces to it. Here are several of the types of mental health I talk about with my clients:

  • Counseling A leader presenting a key topic to a group of people with a whiteboard in the background.
  • Coaching
  • Reading Books
  • Seminars
  • Podcasts
  • Conferences
  • Retreats
  • Exercise

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it does provide us with healthy ways to get started – or continue – our journey of holistic leadership health.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “What’s the difference between counseling and coaching?” Both are in the ‘helping professions’ and both have their place. I’ve experienced both. I’ve benefitted from both over the years. I need both in my life to help me be at my best. So here, in brief, are the differences.

Counseling – The benefit of counseling is that it looks backward in the leader’s journey. Addressing pain points, unresolved issues, family dynamics, trauma, and emotional scars (among other things) counseling provides a safe place for leaders to stop, pause, and reflect on where their life has come from.

Coaching – Coaching is predominately future-focused. Instead of needing details when clients give me their history, they give me the “5-minute version.” I need to know enough to ask good questions, not about where they’ve been, but about where they want to go. Coaching helps individuals get from point A to point F quicker, easier, and more proactively.

Other Investments In Mental Health

Books 

Leaders are readers. If you’re not reading, you will never reach your full potential. I regularly send out my current reading lists and those I see on other websites. I challenged myself as much as possible through a wide variety of genres. Thoughtful leaders engage in history, economics, biographies, fiction, and a wide variety of personal development books.

Seminars and Conferences

Learning from others is a great way to get a quick return on your investment. Find a local or national tradeshow, expo, or conference related to your line of work. Attend regularly, take notes, and write key takeaways from your learning. Years ago, I made it a practice to take the conference notes I took and create a three-step action plan after each one. The amount of new information can be overwhelming and this helped simplify it for me and gave me quick wins when I returned to my normal daily routine.

Podcasts

There are two major time wasters in our daily living: our exercise habits and our commute times. I’ve given up music 95% of the time in favor of podcasts. Exercise six days a week gives me ample time to squeeze in an extra book or podcast. Additionally, I spend an average of 10-15 hours driving every week. I can get in an extra book a month on average just by listening to books and podcasts in the car.

Retreats

Our leadership journeys are often moving at a frenetic pace. Meetings, sales, marketing, investing in others, family time, it can all feel overwhelming. One of the greatest assets you can give yourself is the ability to stop. Breath. Contemplate. Refresh. Retreats are a way to intentionally withdraw from the day-to-day grind and gain some long-term perspective.

Exercise

This is so important we’re going to dedicate another post to it, but the benefits of exercise extend far beyond physical health. Exercise releases chemicals in our brain that make us happier, gives us an energy boost, reframes our perspective, provides inspiration, increases productivity, and stimulates growth.

All In

Growing leaders must be all in on their own health, as this series has shown. Mental health is a critical component of that. This includes both traditional approaches to mental health, as well as positive habits that increase our brain capacity and stimulate our own growth. Leadership mental health is a commitment to yourself and to others to continually execute improvement.


The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.