Kindness Cards Challenge
I have a challenge for you, a dare.
No, it's not hard. No, it doesn't cost money. And no, you don't have to know me to do it.
It will take you five minutes at most. A random act of kindness for a stranger. I dare you to write a #kindnesscard to a complete stranger.
What's a #kindnesscard? Well, I don't really know why I'm calling it that, but hey it sounds trendy, and more importantly, is incredibly impactful!
While speaking at the UnitedHealthcare conference in San Antonio, Texas, I challenged 350 audience members with this very same task. I think they were just as confused as you and I honestly had no idea if my challenge would work or not.
Before I spoke to a crowd full of providers and big wigs about the patient experience, I made sure every audience member had a blank yellow card in front of them.
This was either going to be an epic failure or a giant success.
I blazed through my presentation speaking about the importance of treating patients like human beings instead of numbers on a chart or images on a computer screen.
These are real people experiencing real loss, hurt, and emotions. I asked, "How can we help shine light in their darkness? How can we save someone from drowning?"
This was my solution, cards, rooted in my own survival story...
A little over two years ago, I was in one of the darkest storms of my life. I was about to start a stem cell transplant for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and no matter how well I tried to steer myself into positivity, the night was approaching fast and my light was fading. It felt like my ship had sunk and I was trying to stay above water with my mere strength. Then out of nowhere my raft appeared, slowly bringing me safely to shore. My raft came in the form of cards.
Right before starting my stem cell transplant, my high school theatre teacher came into my room with a rolling suitcase packed to the brim. "What are you doing here?!" I asked excitedly. She was on a mission. Without hesitation she placed the suitcase on my lap, opened it, and poured cards all over me!
"Surprise!" my younger sister yelled. The cards drowned every inch of my body. Clearly, I had no idea what was going on. As if on cue, a mailman entered the room with two post office boxes filled to the brim with more cards.
"It's the 1,000 card marathon," she squealed. I still had no idea what was going on. Turns out, my sister had organized a "1,000 Card Marathon" without me knowing it... shocking because she never gets anything by me. She got my friends from across the country, my local high school, college, her sorority, aunts, uncles, everyone, and anyone to send cards. And by everyone, I really mean anyone who knew about my struggle.
In fact, most of the cards were from complete strangers! They had no idea who I was but they sent a card anyways. As the days went on, the cards kept coming in... one by one they added up until I had over 1,600 cards dispersed throughout my room. The storm had lifted... the night had passed.
There was nothing but light and love bouncing off the walls of my transplant room. My ship had been dismantled but these cards provided the foundation of a new raft to bring me to shore.
Fast forward to last week and now I'm sharing this very same story to game changers in the health industry and challenging them to write a card. Would it work? I had no idea. I waited patiently in the back after my speech, ready to leave in embarrassment if no one approached me with a card.
To my surprise, I was once again flooded with cards, but this time we built someone else's raft. Little did I know that the person who needed these most was at the same very conference I was speaking at. To be honest, I didn't know who these cards were going to go to when I started this idea. I assumed I would just send them to my local hospital.
Then, after collecting over a hundred cards, a man from the audience came up to me and told me about a very special woman at the conference going through her own battle with cancer. He told me her story and said that she had found incredible strength and motivation after seeing me up there. BAM!
"These cards are for her!" I shouted! They had found their home in the very place they were birthed. His face lit up.
Immediately, we organized a mandatory staff dinner to surprise her with the cards. She had no idea what was coming and I had no idea how impactful the simple #kindnesscards would be... you can see the surprise video here:
I realized once again the potential of random acts of kindness from complete strangers. Knowing that a group of strangers built her raft to take her to shore is something that can't be put into words. Another night illuminated, if only for a moment, that will ripple on into someone else's darkness.
Your Challenge: (I dare you to pick one of the options...)
1. Make an impact: Write your card in the comments below and I'll make one for you...
2. Make a bigger impact: (#1) + Make a card, take a picture of it with the hashtag #kindnesscards and tweet it to me @alexkip...
3. Make the biggest impact: (#1 & #2) + Send your card to a local hospital or deliver it in person...
Whatever option you choose, you will make a difference. What ideas do you have? How do you shine light on others? I would love to hear in the comments below.
As always, live in love and spread your light.