December 19, 2006
I've always been raised to believe that there are certain days, or times of year, where you have a license to perform random acts of kindness. If it is someone's birthday, you have a platform to show them how much they mean to you. If it is Christmas week, you have an excuse to give gifts and good cheer.
As a leader, your spontaneous acts of charity filter down through your culture. Everyone around you sees your generosity, and researchers say they get as much buzz watching someone receive a gift as they would get from receiving it. It's also contagious. Your act of kindness leverages the power of suggestion.
Here's my suggestion for social leadership: Be an instant Santa to at least one person this week. Look around at work. Is there someone who works with you that might not get a fun personal gift (like an IPOD shuffle) this season? Is there a person at work who barely makes a living wage that might not be eating turkey this coming Monday? Go to the grocery store, grab a few turkeys and play Santa. Stop by the Mac Store or Best Buy and buy some personal electronics and give them to hard working parents that are devoting 100% of their energy to kid-gifts. You will find that your thoughtfulness is incredibly rewarding to you, them and everyone involved. You never know, you might light a fire of giving and abundance at your office or in your social circle.
I'll never forget the Christmas eve when I was living in Dallas and working at a celluar phone company. The owner brought in a carload of turkeys for his hard working hourly staff. Some already had turkeys, many did not. There was a sense of joy and cheer around the office that led to people giving gifts to their landscapers, favorite waiter or even a neighbor in need. I learned that the owner of the company got one thing right; you can be an instant Santa if you show initiative and humility. It takes a little deep listening, a little cash and a modest amount of time. In the end, you'll create something that will live long after the New Year's Eve parties are forgotten and resolutions are broken. You'll create the virtuous circle of giving.
That's what leaders do; lead. And good leaders lead others to doing good.