#40ForGood: Reflections

Every exercise is a chance to learn something if you do it right--I find myself telling clients that all the time. Clients may say things like: "oh, we have data already." But the survey data they have is are for the purpose of measuring something else. If you want to learn, you have to make the effort to do it.

Every exercise is a chance to learn.

That was my goal with #40ForGood. Sure, I could have spent the day doing good deeds on my own, but that wasn't the only intention. It was to refocus everyday attitudes to pay attention to something good for a change. Spread the kindness at a time when all we hear and talk about is the bad. If you missed out on the fun, I'll recap:

I turned 40 on Saturday (no looking back now!) and I shamelessly asked people to celebrate with me by doing a good deed for someone and sharing it with the hashtag #40ForGood. And I was humbled by the response. From flowers to movie tickets to sweeping a neighbor's porch--it was exactly what I wanted for my birthday. One mom even engaged her sons in on the action and they enjoyed it so much they asked her to do another deed. 

But I also learned what's at the crux of the way we're living now. So many well-intentioned people said: "hey that's awesome" and nothing else. Some just said "I raised a glass in your honor."  Others told me they were so busy they'd try to get to it later. And that's when I realized--we often prioritize kindness when it suits us.

Kindness isn't a task on your task list.

I learned that early on from my mom who would stop the car in the middle of a road to pick up her neighbor's trashcans that blew away. Or she'd notice the person behind her in line had only 3 items to her grocery cart full.  Kindness isn't a one time thing, or an action. It's looking up from your own world to notice the role you play in the world around you. Kindness isn't about spending money or making a grand gesture.

Kindness is about finding small ways everyday to make someone else's life better instead of just worrying about your own.

Normally, I'd say forget the hashtag. I mean, that's what I am saying right? We don't need attention for it, we need to live it. But in a social media-dominated world, we need to use the power of the tools we have to try to get the attention of others. While I'm on my own personal mission to try to live a little bit differently in my next 40 years, if I can use a hashtag to remind others, I will.

So keep following #40ForGood. Every month on the 8th day, our family plans to do something good to help drive the spirit. When I hear something amazing, or read about goodness in the world, I'll share it with the hashtag. I hope you will too. 

We'll continue operate our business with this mentality too.

We'll thank our clients for trusting us with genuine intention. We'll treat them like family. We'll turn down business or dollars when we know it doesn't make sense for someone to hire us, or we think the company can do it themselves. This was always the kind of place I wanted to work and it's my job to make sure we always operate this way.

I'm 40 for good now, and there's no turning back now.  

Before we move forward though, a quick review of where #40ForGood made an impact this weekend:

  1. Lars bought movie coupons and left them at a gas station for a stranger to find 
  2. My brother John gave out vegetables from his garden to his neighbor, chopped wood for my parents and went out of his way to fix a stranger's computer
  3. Denise brought hand-picked flowers with a handwritten welcome note to new neighbors
  4. Master made "care bags" for the homeless with his kids
  5. My cousin Mary found a bank slip on the ground with account numbers and made the effort to return it to the bank
  6. Shannon took vegetables from her garden and gave them to neighbors
  7. Tim and his son overtipped a lunch waitress and later that day at the county fair, bought extra ride tickets for a single mom and her kids.
  8. Melinda picked three bouquets of daisies for her neighbors
  9. Nikki brought unexpected fresh fruit to her sister
  10. Eudora and her family left a handwritten note with a very generous tip for the hotel housekeeper where they were staying
  11. My husband and I gave the waitress at the chili restaurant a 100% tip, and then took a a chili dinner to our local firehouse
  12. Henry mentored out of work job seekers using his own tough experience being unemployed
  13. Kaitlyn swept her neighbor's porch and paid for the order behind her at Dunkin' Donuts
  14. My cousin Ali bought a homeless man a meal
  15. Celinda and her kids took fresh strawberries and flowers to their neighbor as a surprise
  16. Heather paid for four more dog washes after her own (with her doggie Bear)
  17. Jenny bought the meal for the guy behind her at the drive-thru
  18. My mom made the handyman lunch (he told her no one had ever done that for him) and served it to him on the deck
  19. Christa stopped to talk with a lonely neighbor sitting on her stoop having a tough day
  20. Jill, under the weather and home alone with her two kids while her husband is away, thanked her two friends for rearranging their schedules to come help her
  21. Lexi left flowers on her neighbor's stoop (and sent some to me too, thanks Lexi!)
  22. Ali and her family bought the meal for the person behind them in line
  23. Monica made brunch for a friend with an injured leg.
  24. Lis wrote a handwritten thank you/love note that was long overdue
  25. Melissa gave a homeless person a meal and an apple
  26. Kevin treated a visitor to brunch
  27. Kate anonymously gave away Starbucks cards
  28. Sarah donated seven bins of clothes and household goods
  29. Crystal overtipped for coffee and paid for the person behind her
  30. A friend told me she did something nice but wasn't going to tell me or post it (love this)

And this is just a sampling of what others called to tell me about or what I know will be planned. Best. Birthday. Ever. Please keep it going and THANK YOU from the bottom of my old-lady heart.

PS: If you really want to be moved, watch Steve Hartman every Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. He has the best job ever sharing stories like this one:

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps  companies build cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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