What are we doing as leaders to make our communities better? What are you and your teammates doing through your organization, to make a difference to those that need our help? Living the Character Triangle bridges life in and outside of work. Kindness, generosity, and compassion must be part of the fabric of institutions we work in. We are those organizations.
Ian Snadden, an executive at Intermec Technologies, turned me on to the UK IT industry’s annual event, Byte Night, in support of Action for Children. Each year hundreds of individuals and teams from across the IT and business community in Britain spend a night sleeping on the street exposed to the elements in a bid to raise sponsorship and awareness of Action for Children’s work.
It all began 12 years ago when 30 individuals from the IT industry slept out and raised £35,000. Since then the event has grown to over 700 sleepers raising almost £550,000 in 2009 alone. Patrons, sponsors, and sleepers include celebrities and leading figures, CIOs, systems developers, business managers, marketers, and more. Every year hundreds of individuals and teams representing some of the UK’s biggest companies return to take part in Byte Night. This year Ryzex’s European Sales Director and I will be joining the Intermec team to do our small part.
I’m sad to admit that I’m better at reading the sports page than poetry. But I encourage you to read and reflect the below poem, titled “Kindness” and written by Palestinian-American Naomi Shihab Nye.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.