12 Days of Kindness
Someone once asked Michael Jordan to what did he attribute his success on the basketball court and in life. Jordan answered: “You have to expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” While most of us can never achieve what Michael Jordan has, his advice is excellent advice for us in this new year of 2019. Michael Jordan lived his career in the present tense and we need to live our lives the same way.
“I don’t expect you to except me, but I do expect you to accept me.” This quote from Jarod Kintz may seem like a perfect example of how confusing the English language is but it also is a great example of how most of us should live. Life is the quintessential on-the-job training experience. No matter how hard we try we cannot fully prepare for tomorrow because it is always something of a surprise. Each hour offers a chance to succeed or fail.
Why expect anything other than success? In a world where our differences seem amplified, it has become commonplace to expect the worst. We do not turn to the news expecting the program to be full of happy thoughts and joyous happenings. We have become slaves to depressing expectations. What if we expected goodness? What if we expected greatness in ourselves and then realized it when it occurred?
Few of us will ever win the championships Michael Jordan won but he can’t cook my special breakfast gravy like I can. In that, I am the great one. We all have talents that make us special. The other day I sat in front of a toddler, an adorable baby only five months old and together we listened to a guest speaker. The baby understood little about the speaker but gurgled at all the right times and smiled throughout. She made me happy I was present and her smile still brings a smile to my face several days later. In expecting a great time of life, the baby was as much a pro as Michael Jordan. For sure the baby was great at smiling.
Perhaps your talent isn’t cooking but it is in cleaning a house or repairing an engine. Some of us are loving caregivers while others are detailed researchers. We all have a uniqueness that makes us great. Perhaps yours is in expressing joy or gratitude, organizational skills that keep things rolling, or maybe you are a dreamer that envisions great projects. Everyone has something to offer the world.
Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing our supposed faults, what if we looked in the mirror and expected to see our greatness? William Shakespeare advised “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” The actress Judy Garland summed it up best: “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Expect to be you and expect that you are not only a person of value but greatness.
This ends our twelve days of kindness and, if you have been paying attention, you will have figured out that each day’s title was a clue. The titles, in order of the twelve days, were Generosity; Respect; Acknowledge; Clemency; Envision… Accept; Need; Dare …. Laughter; Open; Veer; Expect. These are ways to experience and live kindness: G-R-A-C-E … a-n-d … L-O-V-E. When we are generous, show respect, acknowledge one another with forgiveness and clemency, we are then able to envision a better life. We should accept and need each other, daring to laugh, be open, learning from life’s detours when we veer off course, and expect good things.
The Christmas season has reached its end with the twelfth day of Christmas being today. Tomorrow begins Epiphany, a season of revelation, expectation, and presence. It is a good lesson for us all to expect ourselves to be present in each moment, reveling in what life offers us, and expecting to make today great and tomorrow even better.