The ROI on Kindness
Return on investment, or ROI, is a common business term and one I use frequently in the fall. It’s budget season, which means I am calculating financial needs to manage a successful new year within my account base. It also means gaining alignment on how those dollars are spent and what we as a business get in return. A very simple example might be advertising dollars. As a business, it only makes sense to ensure the ad will generate more revenue than it costs to run. Like so many things in life, it is usually not that simple.
Take, for example, my recent decision to back a fledgling podcast called “What Are You Bringing?”. The co-hosts are provocative leaders in the mindset space and women I truly admire. When I saw the opportunity, every fiber of my being said "yes". It was a large, scary investment. I may get nothing more than a free candle and a private invitation to a virtual birthday party. Helping these women, however, who have an exponentially larger platform than I do to share inspirational conversations, is soul-fulfilling work.
I’m so much more accepting of low return activities these days. Gone are the days where everything I did only served to get me ahead in life, and I’m happy to be vulnerable when discussing how that came to be. I’ve invested my time and shared my voice with several amazing women via podcasts this year. It’s rare that I hear much after the fact. The words simply make their way into someone’s ears with a reaction I’ll usually never be privy to.
I was fortunate enough to speak to Meg from Fit & Fierce again this week. We are trading reiki for breathwork and I was the first to provide my healing services. At the end of our session, she shared a conversation she’d had with a listener the week before. The woman told her, “her story sounds just like mine”. Those same words uttered enough times out of my mouth are what helped me get sober.
I consider volunteering to be the highest ROI activity in my life. I cleared it with my company before committing to a weekly route, so there is no guilt to overcome with the 90 minutes I spend away from my desk. It costs a few bucks in gas that I'll never recoup. What I gain in return is self-respect for being dependable. And the biggest reward, or return, comes from the relationships I’ve built over two years with my clients. They are all like extended family.
One such client is the woman I wrote about last week, who was in over her head financially. My family and friends chipped in and we provided her with $300 in Visa gift cards on Friday. Sometimes acts of kindness go without a ‘thank you’ (although that wasn’t the case this time). This woman was incredibly grateful, but the mystery remains: will she remember how to use them, will she use it on the “right” things, will she end up right back in this situation a month from now?
While we all hoped it would be of huge benefit, we had to accept that it could just be a band-aid on a bigger problem. Sometimes, zero return investments make all the sense in the world.
And it's worth noting that while my vote had zero return in my home state, it felt like a big step closer to nationwide compassion with the outcome.
Kindness is the act itself, bravery comes from doing it while expecting nothing in return.