Thought Leadership

Being kind …

By Colin Walls

As I get older, I find that I am increasingly susceptible to strong emotions. I think it started 30 years ago, when I first became a parent. Having children stretches your emotions in every direction. I think that emotions are like muscles: the more you exercise them, the more agile they become. I can be moved by so many things – both in real life and movies etc. When we go to a movie, I am often pleased that we watch it in the dark.

An odd thing is that, although sad events can move me, it is seeing acts of kindness that gets to me most of all …

Performing an act of kindness is easy, taking relatively little thought and often not much effort. The return on the investment can be handsome, even if it is only the warm feeling that you made someone else’s life just a bit better. I am sure that frequently people in receipt of kind acts go on to be a kinder person themselves. I naïvely feel that if more people focused on being kind, instead of thing about Number One, the world would be a much better place.

In the last two years of her life, my late wife, Linda, spent a lot of time in hospital. For an extended period, she was treated in Bristol, where she received wonderful care. Although I cannot fault the kindness of the staff, they were mostly just doing their job – even if they frequently went beyond the call of duty, it was the behavior of a non-medical person that sticks in my mind.

One day, a lady came into Linda’s room and introduced herself as the Chaplain of the hospital. Linda’s response was along the lines of: “Thanks for coming, but I do not do religion.” The lady was not deterred by this and said: “OK. We will not talk about religion then.” They then chatted and drank tea for an hour or so, finding that they had a number of common interests. She promised to come back and did so, two or three times a week for the rest of Linda’s stay. There were no Bibles, no prayers, no religious discussion. She was just a friend for Linda when she needed all the friends she could get. The lady was, IMHO, a Christian in the true sense of the word.

Later that year Linda died. Shortly afterwards, I received a letter from the lady. She had heard about Linda’s death “on the grapevine” and just wanted me to know that we were in her thoughts. I really appreciated her getting in touch and wrote back to tell her how much her visits had meant to Linda. I did not expect to hear from her again, as there were many more patients in the hospital for her to help. But I was mistaken.

A year later, my daughters and I, along with other close family, acknowledged the anniversary, but did not expect anyone else to do so. It is odd how people remember other folks’ birthdays, but not their deathdays. But I got a card in the mail; someone had remembered …

It is now over a decade later, but I still often think of that lady’s kindness and how it made a difference.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at