Sunday, March 9, 2014

Random Acts of Coolness

By now everyone has heard of the concept of: “Random Acts of Kindness” where someone does something unexpectedly kind or generous for someone in need for no other reason than just to make someone else feel better. “Random Acts of Coolness” is a variation on the theme that can be a lot easier to do, yet just as effective.

Just to be clear, I am talking about “cool” in the following manner:

Cool: not excited; calm; composed; under control: to remain cool in the face of disaster

Can you remember a time in your life when someone was in a position to figuratively hand you your own butt on a platter because you royally screwed up somehow? I am talking about a situation where it would be completely justified for someone to lecture you, punish you, reprimand you or otherwise give you what you deserve? For example, when I was 17, I drove my car to a club in Brooklyn, NY without my parents’ permission, and at 3:00am I came out of the venue to learn that my car had been stolen. I’ll never forget the feeling of dread I felt prior to telling my father, who had given me the car. To my surprise he was extremely cool about it and didn’t yell or punish me or anything. In retrospect, I suppose losing my car in itself was a “natural” punishment on its own so I guess he felt that he didn’t need to add anything to that. I don’t know for sure, I never actually asked him. Still, to this day, I never forgot that. He had the whole car ride back to Brooklyn the next day from NJ (about an hour trip ) to hold me hostage and lay into me about how stupid what I did was, but he held back to my amazement.

I have had other incidents like this in my life that stood out such as screwing up or forgetting to take care of something important at work and having my boss help me brainstorm an idea how to correct the situation instead of writing me up, or having a friend say “just forget about it” with regard to me borrowing then breaking something valuable of theirs or thinking that my wife wasn’t going to talk to me for a week over something completely thoughtless and stupid that I may have said or did and her just turning around and instantly dropping it like it never happened, to name a few more examples. On another occasion I can remember rear-ending a full bus at a traffic light and the owner just dropping the whole thing because there was no harm done, when in reality the whole time I imagined myself getting sued by not only the bus company but also by every individual passenger too. I don’t want to incriminate myself further but in reality when it comes to these types of incidents in my life, the list goes on.

At least in this part of the world, qualities such as being competitive, relentless, and aggressive are often over-emphasized when it comes to views on personal achievement and “success”. In reality, however, it’s OK to “just be cool” once in a while and spare someone what they justifiably may have coming to them for their mistake. For sure there are times when you just can’t let something go and justice must be served. I am not trying to undermine the importance of accountability and discipline either. Nevertheless, my challenge to everyone reading this is to try to display a “Random Act of Coolness” to someone who may be expecting and even deserving of the worst from you. You may even make someone’s day. However, this is not just for them as this little exercise can serve as a simple reminder of the excelling value of compassion, mercy and forgiveness, which at times are understated and overlooked.

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