The Only Virtue to Live By
A few weeks ago, I landed at the Miami international airport for a connecting flight and the airline changed our tickets to another airline since we were entering Canada. Unfortuntely, we couldn’t check-in in advance and get mobile tickets. In other words, we had to run out and find the counter to get our tickets printed for the new flight and go back through security, all in less then 30 minutes. Not a fun process but I was trying to be positive about the whole thing.
Apparently, we weren’t the only ones trying to find an open counter. There was a young couple going through the same scenario, turns out it was also her birthday. Bonne fête! In the end, we were able to get tickets and got escorted through security. We hoped in the plane and I immediately told the flight crew to wait because the couple was on their way.
About 2 minutes before our take off, the couple finally got on. My wife and I were very relieved to see they made the flight. Another 30 minutes later, my wife turned to me and suggested we should buy the women a cupcake for her birthday at the Pearson Toronto airport. Nice right?
That’s when it hit me, being kind and thoughtful can have such a powerful impact on the way we live. We should never consider changing that behaviour for the sake of “success”.
It’s important to consider kindness as the act of being truly empathetic towards the wellbeing of others. Having the “greater good” as top of mind, instead of always thinking about yourself. I consider someone to be kind, if they can reasonably put themselves in someone else’s shoes and understand what they might be going through.
Waste no more time arguing what a good [person] should be. Be one.
- Marcus Aurelius
Do the good guys really lose?
In a society that constantly validates being a dick, the good guy always seems to lose. Half the romantic comedies you see in theatres show a really nice guy getting cheated on or left behind. Not cool Hollywood, not cool. The audience quickly forgets about this character because he sounds boring and does not exude the usual drama of a main protagonist. In other words, this guy has his shit together.
In the end, the protagonist finds a way to fall in love with the messed up drug addict across the hall and everything is butterflies and unicorns. In reality, the nice guy that got dumped actually dodged a bullet. He will likely find happiness somewhere else with someone who is not actually crazy. Which is intentionally omitted from the movie.
That is the paradox I am trying to point out. The nice guy always seems to lose, but reality it all depends on your mindset. If you take the losing situation as a growth experiment and continue to live your life, you are better off in the end. If you haven’t read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, finish reading this post and pick up a copy right away.
Is it Karma?
For those who believe in Karma, the kindness you put out into the world will end up coming back to you in the end. Which is an interesting way to look at things, but this is still dependent on your mindset. You can’t expect good things to happen to you for being a good person, but you can expect to feel good to help others.
Humans have developed an interesting group of societal laws. Take for example holding the door for someone, it’s more of a guideline then an act of kindness. Unfortunately, many people act on habit because they believe these rules are expected to be followed. By following these rules, they feel like they are “go to go” and aren’t impeding on anyone’s wellbeing. Which isn’t wrong, but it still defeats the purpose. The point is to be a good person because you want to.
In a startup, if the founders are only thinking about their own personal gain, you can’t expect to improve anything or foster any positive impact. No one would want to partner with you. Users would have a hard time paying you. Good luck finding employees for your company.
Its important to be kind to others to foster strong relationships. The only way you or your business will grow is with the help of others. It’s foolish to think you can do it alone. Every successful company has at some point received help from outside the company. Whether you are looking for a supporting VCs to partner with, a launch client or even a cofounder, being a good person is your responsibility.
Why I choose to be kind
If everyone was selfish all the time, we would never progress as a society. Nothing good would ever happen because everything you do would focus on your own personal gain. Which clearly doesn’t make the world go round.
A few months ago, I donated blood. They told me that 30% of Canadians will need blood at some point in their lives. Turns out only 6% of Canadians actually donate blood. That means that this group of donors would need to donate quite regularly to support the rest of the population. We need these people to survive. Just to be clear, this isn’t humble brag, it’s an example to remind you what going out of your way to help others can feel like.
Finally, I was brought up to kind and thoughtful to others and that will never change. On top of that, I am Canadian and it is basically a patriotic duty to be kind with others.
No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good.
- Marcus Aurelius
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts, stories or ideas. Feel free to leave a comment below to keep the conversation going.
Originally published at karlclement.com on March 17, 2017.