Does a Random Act of Kindness Really go Anywhere?

Post by Kellly McAtee for the Kindness in Business series.

You do a kind act for someone else, maybe even anonymously, believing it will multiply and create an unending string of magical experiences for every recipient in its path. It’s your own karma-building yellow-brick road of goodness, right? But how do we know if it goes anywhere, much less around the world creating Aha moments of enlightenment over and over again?

Think about it: Why might some random acts of kindness continue to travel while others reach a screeching stop with their first beneficiary? What is it that makes some recipients of a kind act say, “Damn, I’m gonna go make someone else’s day! Life is freakin’ awesome!”?

  • It’s not a matter of cost or how much you spent 
  • It’s now how well thought out your kind act was 
  • It’s not the timing or even how sincere you were 
  • Rather, it’s one simple, eye-to-eye question 

THE BACKSTORY

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “So what makes her an expert on the travels of random acts of kindness?” Give me a minute here for some background.

It all started almost seven years ago when one of my five children – she was 11 at the time – came home and said, “You know, Mom, I did that for her like two weeks ago, so now she should do this for me.”

Fingernails slowly drag down the chalkboard.

“What?” I said. “Say again.” She could tell by my condescending voice that she had said something wrong. “Sweetheart, true generosity is when you do something for someone else and you don’t expect a return favor,” I told her. She got the message, but the experience got me thinking. Had I failed as a parent in teaching my kids what authentic kindness and generosity are?

I don’t know about you, but making sure my kids grow into kind, altruistic adults is probably my chief goal in life. Independently, I can do kind acts day-in and day-out, but if I fail to develop altruism within each of my children, how am I truly making a difference in the future of the world?

So, beginning the next day back in 2009, I started taking my children out to do anonymous, random good deeds. I told them, “This is what generosity is; you do something good for others and you leave it at that.” From paying for people’s coffees at drive-thrus to leaving flowers on strangers’ cars or taping kind notes to the fold-down trays in airplanes, they learned. They really did. They began to internalize what authentic kindness is all about.

THE WEBSITE AND DEEDLE CARDS

And so, right then in 2009, my adventure began in becoming an expert in the travels of random acts of kindness.

I created a website and named it “Just Bee Generous” in tribute to the phrase I whispered to my children every time I heard them bickering. I wanted this random act of kindness website to be different, though, so I created what’s known as a “Deedle Card,” to be used in every kindness “transaction.” Essentially, people request FREE Deedle Cards from us, which they then use in random acts of kindness. We even added a tracking element, so a user could see how far their individual card had traveled. The concept was simple:

  1. Do a kind act for someone 
  2. Hand that person a Deedle Card 
  3. The recipient logs the kind act on the website 
  4. Then he/she goes out and uses the card again in yet another kind act. And so on, and so on. A blazing trail of trackable goodness whipping its way around the world! 

Seems easy enough, right?

Let me say this. To date, about 16,000 Deedle Cards have been put into circulation around the world, and I have hundreds of emails/notes from grateful recipients on nearly every continent. Some of them even tell me that receiving the card was a life-changing experience. I had one woman who received a card in 2009, held onto it, and didn’t use it again until years later. These Deedle Cards have clearly made a difference in the lives of many people. But what about those trails? Recall, we added a tracking feature to every card so that we could see where it went and what kind acts it had been used for….a tracking feature that required recipients to log onto the website and enter in the details of their kind acts.

However, as the recipient of a Deedle Card, a person either didn’t want to take the time to pull up the website and enter in their kind act OR he/she was skeptical of doing so. As a result, few trails grew in length on the website, because the recipients didn’t want to log them. However, those same trails – nonexistent on the website – continued to thrive and grow in the real world. But only if the giver asked one simple, eye-to-eye question to the recipient.

THE QUESTION

“Could you please, at some point in the not-too-distant future, go out and do another kind act for someone else?”

That’s it. When you ask your recipient to continue the trail, they usually do! But if you don’t, many recipients chalk up their experience to good luck. “Heck yeah, someone just paid for my Taco Bell!”

So don’t be shy! Go out there and continue doing kind acts, but don’t forget that one important question.

One last thing….

A NEW METHOD

Beginning in the next few weeks (our website is undergoing some modifications for this), the trackable feature on the Deedle Cards (and now wristbands, too) will work differently. After all, we’re dying for this tracking feature to work so we can see where and how far our kind acts go!

The new Deedle Cards and Kindness Keeper Wristbands will work as follows:

  1. You, the person who ordered the cards or wristband, log all of your good deeds/random kind acts on the website in your own account – not the recipient. Log as many as you want! 
  2. One day, find a person whom you trust and believe will continue your good Karma trail (a friend, relative, etc). Give that individual your coded card or wristband. That person can then continue logging more kind acts for as long as he/she likes. Every time your card or wristband is used in another act of kindness, you are notified via email! 
  3. That person then gives the card/wristband to another person, and so on, and so on. 

We can’t wait, and we certainly look forward to having you join us!

Kelly McAtee is a mother of five and owner of the non-profit, Just Bee Generous. She is a New Orleans native, where her family dates back to the Battle of New Orleans, and she credits this awesome city for what it taught her about kindness and the human spirit. Just Bee Generous and its Deedle Cards can be found around the world, and the new Just Bee Generous school curriculum for grades K – 5 is now available on the sister site, JBGforSchools.com. Check us out on Facebook or Twitter for inspirational content!

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