“Be excellent.  Just be kind.”

This is the line coined by a good friend and business mentor of mine.  I’ve quoted him saying these words just about every time I gather with him over lunch or coffee.  These words have proved to be true north for me.  I strive to be excellent in all I do, whether at home or at work.  I try my best to be kind whenever possible.  But what does it mean to be kind?

Well, the most obvious kindness is to simply use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, seemingly a lost art in much of today’s culture as we’ve come to expect good service.  But we can still show our manners.  How about the kindness of “I was wrong, I’m sorry.”  This helps diffuse a volatile situation and helps the other person feel as though you’re aware of them.  Saying these words doesn’t cost us much, and in most cases, these acts of kindness are an essential part of connection, social engagement, and forward progress.

How about the kindness of dignity.  Of granting someone the benefit of the doubt.  The kindness of seeing someone for the person that God created them to be…and can become.  Of extending grace to unmet expectations and mercy to wrongdoing.  The kindness of coming to the realization that everyone, including you and me, has a story to be told, a quirk in our personality, a voice in our heads, a fear to be conquered, and a dream to be realized…and being ok with it all.

How about the kindness of delaying gratification.  Or of building something for your community, finding purpose in your work, and blazing a resilient, unselfish path forward.

Kindness isn’t always straightforward or obvious.  It can take time and attention to develop the right plan.  And the hustle of life and duty can distract us from doing what’s right to others.  But slowing down, taking a breath, and redirecting our efforts toward justice, dignity and connection is the best way forward on the path to kindness.

And, if done consistently and properly, kindness can have a multiplying effect on others and can open up possibilities.  When we serve others…when we show kindness, we have the opportunity to create positive change and improve the world around us.

Today, and everyday… Be excellent.  Just be kind.