What is deliberate thoughtfulness?
Thoughtfulness does not have to be difficult but it does need to be deliberate. To get some perspective, here is what a child told me when I asked what empathy meant to him. He told me, “If somebody fell at school during recess, I would try to help out.”
It is a simple but pure definition of the caring mindset. Think about it. Thoughtfulness is kindness in action. It is something we can practice every day until it becomes second nature and we feel bad when we are not practicing empathy.
Here is a quick story that illustrates the power of being thoughtful, empathetic, and having a caring mindset.
The CEO of one of the companies I was consulting with told me I had to wrap up my contract. His request kind of came out of nowhere. After speaking with him, I learned the reason was that his company would probably be declaring bankruptcy soon. I thought about what I had learned about empathy toward my own life and decided to try something different.
Instead of quickly ending our work with the company and trying to get whatever fees I could, I told him not to worry about us. I told him I wanted to finish our work with his company. I was more concerned about him and his company than the fees he owed us.
I told him that my experiences had taught me that we are obligated to help others when they are facing a difficult time. Our firm was in the fortunate position of being able to finish our work even if we did not get paid, but that is the whole point of empathy—kindness in action.
Frankly, I think my client thought I was crazy but he agreed. Unfortunately the company did file for bankruptcy, but here is the thing. Exactly 24 hours before they filed, our firm received the full payment for our firm’s work with him. I also heard he took care of other firms and suppliers who had continued to work for him. I’m convinced my empathy towards these organisations taught him to also be empathetic.
Remember—talking about doing something is not enough. You need to act.
One of the world’s pre-eminent experts on quality and process improvements, Subir Chowdhury is the #1 international bestselling author on SIX SIGMA philosophy. Hailed by The New York Times as a “leading Quality expert,” and by Business Week as “the Quality Prophet”, he is the author of 15 books. His latest book THE DIFFERENCE: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Crown Business, 2017) made it to the USA Today Bestseller list as well as National Bestseller in India. In 2017, India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur established the ‘Subir Chowdhury School of Quality and Reliability’ – the first of its kind in Asia. He is the Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and helped his clients save billions of dollars.