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  • When I went through the Federal Executive Institute, we started our day each morning at 6:00 a.m. with an hour-long fitness workout. Barry was the fitness guru. He worked us hard for that hour, pushing us to the point that we weren’t sure we could go past, and he’d coax us past that point. He was masterful at knowing how far he could push us. Barry always had a great music mix playing, that he’d put together himself, the songs seemingly timed perfectly for the points in each day’s routine where they would most inspire. The last 5 – 10 minutes would be the cooldown part of the session, really kind of like a guided meditation at times. This was the time when we would get Barry the philosopher.


    Barry believed in what he did, believed in fitness, had studied it all his life, and had imparted his fitness wisdom to countless executives and many others through his continual fitness classes and one-on-one sessions with people. It was his calling. Barry also was a disciple of another discipline. Kindness. Barry would wrap up many a session with words like this – “It’s a tough world out there. It’s dog-eat-dog at times. It’s very political, and sometimes even cut-throat. Remember to be kind to your fellows of the human race. It’s easy to be hard. It takes an effort to be kind. Make the effort. You will add years to your life, and you will make the world a better place. Be kind.”
  • I learned a lot of things at the institute. Those 30 some days changed my life. I learned a ton about leadership, negotiation, influence, my own strengths and challenges as a leader, how to create and achieve BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Challenges), how to effectively network, among many other things. But, one of the most important things I took away from there was Barry’s re-affirmation of what I learned growing up, and maybe had begun to forget in my own day to day struggles with the Rat-Race. The importance of being kind to my fellows. Making this one of my priorities, each and every day.


    For me, this doesn’t mean saying nice things to someone’s face, then turning around and dogging them behind their back. It means being genuinely kind to people. Treating them as I would like to be treated. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, whenever I can. When faced with the choice of jumping to what appears to be an obvious conclusion, because of a few facts that have presented themselves to me, or that I have researched and that appear to be damning, pulling them aside, privately, and having a conversation, one human being to another. Giving them a chance before I go after them – before I accuse them. The minute I go into accusation mode, it opens the floodgates for vitriol and venom to fly back and forth. Who started it – who said what to whom, when – it doesn’t matter, from that point forward. If I participated in the slinging, I am responsible for my part, and I have to clean that up. And stop the nonsense. If, because of what I slung, the other party has trouble backing down from the brink, after I’ve cleaned up my end, I then just have to walk away.
  • I have not mastered this in all things I do. I still screw it up sometimes. Especially when I am sure that I am right. It’s so easy to go there. It’s so easy to be hard, when I “know” I’m right. Not always so easy to be kind. I dedicate myself to getting better at it, though.


    There’s just too much of the opposite happening, all around me, everyday. We’ve lost perspective of what it’s all about. We’ve grown suspicious of everyone and everything. We’ve demanded perfection, when what we really want is excellence. Perfection allows no room for error. No room to be human. No allowance to learn from our mistakes.


    Today, I rededicate myself to kindness, to all. It sounds hard, only because it is. But I’m in. Who’s with me?



    How can people be so heartless?
    How can people be so cruel?
    Easy to be hard - Easy to be cold

    How can people have no feelings?
    How can they ignore their friends?
    Easy to be proud - Easy to say no

    Especially people who care about strangers,
    Who care about evil, and social injustice!
    Do you only care about the bleeding crowd?
    How about a needing friend?
    I need a friend…

    How can people be so heartless?
    You know I'm hung up on you
    Easy to be proud - Easy to say no

    And especially people who care about strangers
    Who say they care about evil and social injustice
    Do you only care about the bleeding crowd?
    How about a needing friend?
    I need a friend…

    How can people be so heartless?
    How can people be so cruel?
    Easy to be proud - Easy to say no
    Easy to be cold - Easy to say no
    C'mon Easy to give in - Easy to say no
    Easy to be cold - Easy to say no
    It’s much too easy to say no!

    Songwriters: MAC DERMOT, GALT/RADO, JAMES/RAGNI, GEROME
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