These are tough times.
The national discourse is not always nice. There’s more anger, finger pointing, name-calling and discontent with the way things are than any time in the recent past.
The uninitiated might think that this is the way to get ahead – throw your colleague under the bus. Lie. Cheat. Fake it ‘til you make it. The young people who are entering the workforce get much of their information from social media – from what appears in their feeds, what is shared, what is tweeted, posted and trending. I teach at a large university and I hear this first hand from my students.
They see mistrust everywhere and easily point out the use of humor, sarcasm and over-explaining as ways to feign civil decorum. They reject messages that walk the line between irrelevant news and hyperbole as they make believability an issue.
Even in the world of mainstream advertising, the legal mandate of telling the truth has recently been tested and stretched.
In early 2019, Budweiser threw MillerCoors under the bus with an advertising campaign that poked at their competitor for using corn syrup in the brewing process – something that had nothing to do with consumers or what they care about.
Clif Bar followed soon after by launching a marketing campaign against Kind bars focusing on Kind’s lack of organic ingredients. They were criticized for using a cause to promote their own product and were accused of ‘concern trolling’ Kind snacks.
Media driven messages are vast and powerful. Companies, brands and individuals have a choice – they can join the fray or they can push it away and stick to their own values and morals to get ahead. Good guys don’t finish last.
So here’s the point I want to make: we trust people that are kindful. We invite them out to dinner. We strike up friendships. Being with them makes us feel good about ourselves too. It inspires us to be kindful back. We have the confidence and support to function and behave on our own terms and can push off mean-spirited rivalry and actions that masquerade as the new standard of behavior.
Leaders and role models today have the responsibility to teach the current and next generations that Kindfulness is the way to feel good about others and ourselves. Focusing on doing good to feel good is the true and correct way to get ahead.
When I go back to my class this fall, I’m going to teach a whole new group of students the benefits of Kindfulness. We’ll do exercises on emotional intelligence. We’ll work on developing positive personal interactions. We’ll discuss media literacy and learn how to pay attention to what matters. This is my one little part in trying to help future leaders honor themselves and others by seeing Kindfulness as a key skill. If we can all stay mindful and be kindful, the workplace will be a better place to work.