You can’t say that about many things, but this trait is unique even among virtues. Maybe that’s because kindness can be in such short supply that we instinctively know its value when we come across it.
Whatever the case may be, it’s still rare to see kindness mentioned on one of those many lists floating around on the internet that try to tell us the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur. You know the ones, and they usually feature a lot of the same traits — creativity, dedication, the ability to roll with failure, etc. We’d agree those are all vital. But without genuine kindness, it’s difficult to build much of anything, much less a business worth its while.
That’s because kindness is a foundation of our relationships with other people. Being kind is an ability, a skill we practice and use even in times when we’d rather not, when it seems a burden or an inconvenience. It’s a prerequisite for trust that clears the way for partnerships to grow, for mutual goals to be realized and worked for. And in a world of ever-more scrutinizing ethics applied to our businesses, our tendencies for kindness give us a roadmap to sustainability by focusing our priorities through a lens that centers on compassion.
This can be powerful stuff. Of course, there are times when it feels the startup world is anything but kind, such as when a deal falls flat or a partner turns out to be less trustworthy than we’d thought. But having real kindness doesn’t mean you need to dull your leadership or let others take advantage of you. Rather, being kind allows us to engage with people and ideas as they are, to put forth the best possible version of ourselves and hopefully, establish a reputation of being a person that others seek out and want by their side.