Follow Your Own Question

Businessman touch button interface question icon webMy oldest son asked me tonight at dinner, “what does it mean to be kind?”

Without much thought I rattled off a few ways I thought he should act towards his younger brothers and his friends at school:

1. Be considerate of others feelings.
2. Use kind and polite words.
3. Don’t be rude.
4. Talk to someone when no one is talking to them.
5. Being nice even when the other person can’t be nice back.

He said, meh. And then went on his way.

I’m not sure what kind of Jedi Mind Trick he was playing on me, but his question made me consider my own life and my own kindness (or lack thereof).

It was an easy question to answer my son, but not an easy one to live up to.

Even based off my own definition, how often do I truly think of other peoples’ feelings? Am I quick to use kind and polite words? I know there have been times when I’ve delighted in being rude or felt it was in my right to ignore someone that everyone else is ignoring. I’m not being mean, I’m just following the crowd.

It made me think of the times I’ve been unkind to my children, to the customer service rep, to the person driving in front of me.

I wouldn’t have classified myself as unkind (in general). I have my moments and not-so-good moments. But I’m glad my son asked me that question. It’s important to ask ourselves questions about who we are and how we act, because according to Dr. David Cooperrider, author of Appreciative Inquiry:

“Human systems move in the direction of the questions we ask.”

In essence, we follow our own questions.

Do you want to become more productive?
What are the ways you can increase your level of productivity?
Do you want to become a better writer?
Who are the writers you can emulate, follow, and collaborate with?
Do you want to improve your health?
How do people go from couch potato to ultimate fighting champions?

We move in the direction of the questions we ask.

If you want to grow, develop, and change – then it’s important to follow your own questions.

For me this morning, I asked myself in what ways could I be kinder? Which then led to more questions like:

  1. Would it harm me to be more kind to my spouse, children, co-workers, and other drivers (grrr…)?
  2. Would being more mindful and present allow me to be more grateful and therefore less likely to be unkind?
  3. Do I want my children to see an example of someone who is kind and patient?
  4. Do I want my students to see me as an advocate for them?
  5. Do I want my clients to see me as someone they can trust?

These questions help move me from intention towards change.

I’m grateful for these simple questions that can often lead to deeper questions.

I hope my children are kind. I hope they grow up to be strong and kind men that treat all people with respect.

I hope I grow up to be more like that.

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