It’s hard to believe that this chapter has ended. That after 9 or so months of learning with a cohort of 35 peers, that we are done. I think I am going to miss it. I learned so much and feel so incredibly blessed that my organization, PAL, supported me in participating in Leadership Clark County this year. There is so much I could say, but since I was honored to be chosen by my class to speak on our behalf last night at graduation, I thought perhaps I would share with you that speech….
Good evening. With 100% sincerity, I can honestly say I was shocked, humbled, and honored to be chosen as this year’s class speaker. Then when Tina told me I had ten minutes to speak, I thought that’s perfect. That gives me exactly two minutes to talk about each of my teammates from our community projects. Thus, let me start with Lindsay Langley….
Just kidding, I will not spend my time talking about my team, though they are pretty awesome and as Lindsay would insert: Go Spuds!
LCC is a unique experience and when you decide to throw yourself into the process you think you know what you’re getting yourself into; yet in actuality the process surprises you. You learn new things about yourself, your community, and about how our city really works.
The Process though is not what I want to discuss tonight and yes I said discuss; be prepared because I will be asking each of you, LCC Graduate or not to participate.
Rather I want to discuss kindness. And in order to have a quality discussion about kindness we need to first define kindness. In order to do this we need to shorten this adjective to its core word: kind and Merriam-Webster defines kind as “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Kind. Kindness. Being of a sympathetic or helpful nature. Yeah I think that pretty much describes our class. Like last year’s class from the beginning we chose to reject the idea that we would be “the best class ever.” We wanted to be unique, to be different, to be known by our own adjective. By the end of our Hood River retreat, we found that adjective: kindness. We had the opportunity to be the kindest LCC class and I believe as a team, as a cohort we embraced that descriptor.
I want to take that word a step or two further though and I am hoping you will humor me for a moment. The first synonyms who you may find when you look up kind is compassionate, warm-hearted, benevolent… but I think we can stretch that even more and turn kindness into love. Yes I know it is a stretch, but love is the word that I think describes my LCC cohort. And please know when I say love, I mean all meanings of that word.
Now I’m not saying we were perfect or that in every moment as we walked down this LCC path that we flawless showed love and kindness. We did though try. Countless times I saw classmates walk alongside each other as they grappled with their own truth. I saw classmates listen to each other; I mean truly listen with no other intention than to be that ear. I saw my cohort challenge each to be better and call each other out even when maybe it wasn’t comfortable to do so. That my friends, colleagues, guests, is love and it is Leadership.
Leadership lived out is kindness, it is compassionate, it is truth, it is challenging the process, it is love and that was what I was reminded of throughout this last year in Leadership Clark County. I think sometimes when we think of a leader we think of someone eloquent, someone who is always confident, someone who was the team captain, someone who is unafraid to stand up for what they believe in. And although some leaders may be that, I’d venture to say many leaders are not. In fact many leaders are defined by their vulnerability, by their heart, by their ability to listen first, or even their ability to lead by following.
Over this past year I began hearing of this movement called the Kindness Challenge. It was sweeping across the country and was about to land in our back yard. Our local schools were answering the Kindness Challenge and preparing for a week of sharing kindness. Then our local Sheriff’s Office took up the challenge and started issuing Kindness Citations. Deputies were tasked to find community members doing Kind things and then “cite them” for it. Pretty clever I think.
So here then is the participation part. When you walked into the auditorium there was an index card on your seat and at the end of the aisles there are pens we can pass down. I invite you to take a moment right now to take a step in your own leadership journey, to join me in our own mini Kindness challenge, by pausing to answer this question: tomorrow I will show kindness/love by _________.
Thank you for humoring me and when you leave tonight there is a place in the back where you can pin up your card. By adding your note to everyone else here I hope we can all be bolstered by the love and kindness present here tonight.
Let me close by saying this… Leadership Clark County is truly a transformational experience, if you allow it to be. I know it changed me and I imagine most of my class, if not every member, would say the same. So thank you LCC for letting me take this journey; thank you LCC Class of 2018 for loving me and showing me kindness and doing the same for each other. We may not be the “best class,” but we are “the kindest” and together with past, present and future leaders we will positively impact our community.
If you read through all of that, I invite you to also take part in our kindness challenge today. Do something, even if it is small, because I know that if you do you won’t regret it.