Is Kindness One of Your Core Strengths?

Try-Kindness-Button-(0921)At the end of last week’s post about seeing what we look for, I asked you what you would choose to see. A number of people suggested traits like generosity, abundance, love, and kindness.

Your suggestions brought me back many years to an “Ah-Ha!” moment in my life — a moment that lit a bulb in my mind and shifted what I look for.

Recognizing the Importance of Kindness

I was at a meeting of fellow fundraising professionals and, as an ice breaker, the facilitator asked each of us to make a list of eight qualities describing ourselves. Then we were asked to rank them in priority order.

I set about making my list.

I can’t remember everything on it or the order of the terms I used, but I do remember that my list was loaded with  words like “energetic,” “clear,” “incisive,” “smart,” “productive,” “hard-working,” and “honest.”

Once our lists were done, each of us read the word we felt was most important. Many people mentioned the type of achievement-oriented words I had included in my list.

But when it was Chuck Thompson’s turn, his response changed my life.

Chuck Thompson was an experienced and very successful consultant. And the top word on his list was “kind.”

His top word was “kind!”


Even today, thirty years later, I remember how stunned I was.

Not just because Chuck had listed kindness as his number one attribute, but because kindness was nowhere on my list.

I hadn’t even considered it! Nor had I considered “generous” or “friendly” or “compassionate” or any of the “gentler” attributes.

I had been so pulled into the notion of accomplishment and achievement that I was neglecting — even demeaning — a large part of who I was or at least wanted to be.

Kindness is Indispensable to Success

Ever since that day, I’ve thought differently about the qualities I value in myself and others.

Though Chuck was one of the most accomplished people in that room, he put a greater value on kindness than anything else. And in the moment he shared that, I realized that being kind was not at odds with being successful. Rather it was an indispensable ingredient.

When you think of the qualities you value in yourself and others, are they lopsided toward accomplishment?

Brain power and achievement are only one part of what drives us. Without kindness and compassion and humanity, they really aren’t worth much at all.

TryTry ThisThis

List 8 Characteristics that Describe You

How would you describe yourself? Putting aside the obvious things like gender and physical description, what words would you use?

Once you’ve made your list, prioritize the words according to your sense of their importance. Is there anything you’re leaving out? Why?

What words would be on your list? Share some of them in the comments below.