A couple of months ago, I took a "kindness day" off from work. The idea was to spend a day committing at least 10 acts of kindness in and around my neighborhood - with the goal of generating one hundred more. I did simple things like leaving a pile of change at a payphone and placing anonymous "thanks for being a great neighbor" cards on nearby doorsteps.
I'm not sure what ultimately resulted from these pay-it-forward attempts, beyond a feel-good buzz for me. But the important thing was to make the effort and to have faith that goodness can be catalyzed by even the smallest acts.
Good things did actually happen as a result. Following a radio commentary I wrote on my experience, the folks at Yahoo! contacted me to ask if I would be willing to participate in a program they run called How Good Grows. They have a site where individuals can report on their good deeds and/or be inspired by those of others to take action. The goal is to create "Ripples of Kindness" to influence as many good acts as possible.
A representative of How Good Grows offered me $100 to take some type of action(s) in an effort to create a snowball effect of goodness. I agreed and received a check in the mail. Then came the hard part... how should I use the money?
Now that I was actually being paid to be kind, I decided I needed to come up with something really important, even bold.
So I am aiming to start a kindness revolution to instigate millions of acts of kindness across the country.
Using my $100, I will print hundreds of flyers and hire two kindness subcommandantes - my 10 and 8-year-old daughters - to plaster them in and around the restrooms of Starbucks coffee shops in an unnamed city (secrecy is of the utmost importance for subversive action). The flyers will ask the reader to Tweet (@starbucks) or Facebook a request to Starbucks to begin printing kindness "actionables" on all of their coffee cups. The cups would offer simple ideas like giving a compliment to a co-worker or sending a thank you note to a teacher or mentor who has made a difference in one's life.
If all goes as planned, a seed will be planted to commit a good act every time someone picks up one of the 4 million cups of coffee that Starbucks sells each day. Even if only 5 percent of Starbucks customers undertake a kindness actionable, that means 200,000 acts will be committed every day - and more than 73 million in the course of a year!
So I hope you will join the revolution by letting Starbucks know that we need them to take action on behalf of kindness. Better yet, go to How Good Grows or the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website and identify some small acts you can do today.
Regardless of what you choose, I raise my coffee cup to you and your own kindness efforts.
P.S. If you are someone who really needs $100 or have your own pay-it-forward master plan, please post your need/idea below and e-mail me your contact info to pauljlambATgmail.com and I'll send a check to the top choice. I'd like to see the money do more good!