Every now and then I come across stories or pictures that have a common thread. When it happens to me as dramatically in such a short amount of time, as it did recently, I often take it as a sign that I should do my part to expand its reach. In this case, the topic came from a LinkedIn post, an audio book, and a perspective of planet Earth from space. It’s about being kind to one another – so simple, but underestimated for its power and value in good leadership.
Two little boys
While browsing LinkedIn the other day, a post caught my eye that featured a picture of two little boys. The student with the green lunch box is a child with special needs. Apparently he was so scared of going to school that he started crying. The kid with the blue backpack comforted his classmate by walking up to him and holding his hand. How wonderful.
Leadership isn’t always about leading large organizations and making a difference around the world. Instead, it’s about understanding that the world is made up of billions of people and that each of us has the ability to change the life of at least one person. All we have to do is stand up and be kind. We lead by example by using our Blue Backpack Leadership brand.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson
Within a day of seeing the post on LinkedIn, I was enjoying a morning run and listening to the audio book When The Game Was Ours by Larry Bird, Earvin Magic Johnson, and Jackie MacMullan. While the book focuses primarily on the special relationship between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, it was a story about Magic and Kareem Abdul Jabbar that caught my attention that day. To pull off this anecdote, NBA players often turned to Magic for business advice, since Magic was as successful as a business as it was as a player.
When Kareem asked Magic what it takes to achieve such business success, Magic replied that you have to be nice to people. You have to be on all the time. Kareem, who is known for his often grumpy behavior off the pitch, suggested it would be extremely difficult for him to be like that with everyone all the time. Magic assured him that this was the only way.
Magic continued to tell this story. During Magic’s rookie season, a young boy and his father waiting outside the arena asked Kareem to take a picture with them. Kareem brushed them off, leaving the boy dejected at being so unceremoniously fired by his basketball idol. Magic felt so bad that he went up to the father and son and said, “I’ll take a picture with you.”
The boy loved the photo and never forgot the kindness Magic showed him and his father. Years later, when Magic was looking for investors for its newest venture, a CEO approached him and said, “You probably don’t remember me, do you?” It turns out that the boy who was with his father in front of the arena stands, has grown to become CEO. The CEO still had the photo, and Magic had a new investor.
A view from space
On the A Beautiful World, How Astronauts Change After Seeing Earth from Space page, they described it like this: “The vision effect is a cognitive change that affects some astronauts when they see Earth from space. Many say that after seeing the earth from space, they no longer identify with a particular nationality or culture, but see themselves and all earthlings as one people living on one world.
The overview effect has been documented by numerous astronauts and cosmonauts, who describe viewing the Earth from space as “a tiny, fragile ball of life hanging in emptiness, shielded and nourished by a gauzy atmosphere.”
“From space, astronauts cannot see physical borders or national borders, all evidence of division and separation disappears. The conflicts that divide countries, cultures and people are becoming less relevant and the need to create a peaceful, unified planetary society working together to protect this ‘pale blue dot’ becomes critical.”
Most of us will never experience such a moment from space. However, we can take the time to look at a picture of our fragile planet, realize how little time we have to enjoy it, and understand why being kind to one another is so important to our existence.
reflection and action
As a leader in all walks of life, I hope these three examples provide food for thought. In my life, have I always been kind to everyone whenever I had the opportunity? Sadly no. I suspect that many of you reading this article might come to the same conclusion. We cannot change the past, but we can stand up for kindness again in the future. With the leadership of the Blue Backpack as our inspiration, let’s make a positive difference in the lives of those closest to us as we remain stewards of this amazing planet we all call home.
Written by Leo Bottary.
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