Imagine sitting down to read your favorite magazine at a local bookstore, when suddenly you notice what looks like a gift card protruding from the pages. As you delve further, you confirm your initial suspicion and can’t help but smile when you see the Jamba Juice logo on the card. But that’s not all. There is also a hand-written certificate that reads: You’ve just received a Random Act of Kindness…
For most us, we’ve experienced first hand the joy and excitement of receiving an unexpected gift with absolutely no strings attached. Whether it be that extra quarter you needed to cover the purchase of your morning coffee, or a simple smile from a stranger, the impact these small acts of kindness have on us is far greater than most will admit.
I would argue that these same feelings of joy and excitement resonate even more when you are the benefactor of the small act of kindness. After all, isn’t it better to give than to receive?
A few years ago, I asked several of my leadership students to complete a very unique assignment. Their task was to go out in the community and deliver a random act of kindness in a creative way. The only stipulation was that they could not deliberately choose the recipient, making it a completely “random” act of kindness.
It only made sense for me to practice what I preach, so I set forth to carry out my own random act. Having done this several times before, I aimed to make this one even more creative than the others. After stopping at Jamba Juice to purchase a $5 gift card, I attached the card to my hand-written certificate, which read: You have just received a random act of kindness. If you feel so inclined, go out and share a random act with someone else. With my oldest daughter by my side, I walked into the Ahwatukee Barnes and Noble and covertly placed both the card and certificate neatly between the pages of the July issue of Oprah Magazine. You would have thought I was on a top-secret mission as I quickly scanned the room to make sure no one was looking. I could even feel my hands begin to shake.
As we exited the store, the authentic feeling of elation began to set in. Just as we reached the car, I leaned down and softly whispered in my daughter’s ear, “Daddy just did a random act of kindness.” On the drive home, I continued to quietly celebrate my random kindness, all the while thinking of what a difference it would make for a complete stranger. Even though what I had done was such a small gesture, the enormous drop I had made in my own bucket would last for days.
When I arrived home, I immediately gave my wife the moment-by-moment recap of the event, or should I say mission. I felt like a school child that had just been chosen student of the month and couldn’t wait to tell his parents. Amazingly, this one simple act had brought so much joy to my day.
I will never know who received my random act of kindness. But does it matter? Absolutely not! As I tell my students, “It’s not about the reaction of the recipient, but rather the joy you feel as the giver.
I challenge you this holiday season to perform a random act of kindness. Make it a family affair and brainstorm unique methods of delivering your kindness. Whether it’s paying for the coffee of the person behind you or handing a stranger a note that says “you matter”, any act will certainly be an act to remember.