A few changes in my circumstance have had me reflecting a lot more recently. Reflection is key for growth, but when most people talk about growth they talk about refining existing beliefs, gaining new mental models and perspectives to see the world.
What people don’t talk about is the tough part of growth. The gut-wrenching, agonising process of systematically destroying old parts of yourself. Parts that were either toxic, deluded, or just plain unhelpful.
It’s self-indulgent, and more an open letter to myself than anything, but if you are finding that you are becoming a person you never meant to be, you may find some of the insights helpful.
Here’s an extract.
I Was Wrong in Misunderstanding Kindness, and its Importance
Looking at my role models it’s easy to see where the virtues I see as most desirable come from. I admire Kendrick Lamar for his creativity, Steve Jobs for his vision, Leonardo da Vinci for his curiosity, Russel Brand for his charisma.
Nowhere on this list is a role model I admire due to their kindness. Until recently, I didn’t even think of kindness as a particularly high virtue. The truth is, I didn’t really understand what it meant. I’d swing between associating kindness with ‘being nice’, something I have no intention of aiming towards, or associating kindness with doing what I felt was best for that person.
But this isn’t kindness at all. Kindness is a continuous act, whether that’s words, actions or initiatives, with the aim of doing what is best for somebody, not what you feel is best for them. That’s a subtle difference, it’s not good enough to do what you think is right, you have to know what is right for them.
This is why true kindness is so difficult to pull off. It’s easy to see someone in a tough spot and think ‘this is what I’d need right now’ but this isn’t kindness. Kindness requires true empathy. Kindness requires you to take serious time walking around in someone else’s shoes, and most people aren’t willing to spend the time going through this kind of work. Most people are nice, but few people are truly, deeply kind.
Kindness is what makes life worth living, it’s the most generous thing one person can do for another. I don’t want to be remembered for being innovative, creative or ‘successful’, just let people say I was kind and I’ll die a happy man.