One of my favorite childhood memories is breaking out the Sears and JCPenney holiday catalogs and poring over them to make my Christmas list. So many decisions to make! I still love the holidays but my list has gotten shorter and easier to make, especially this year. I wish for only one thing – more kindness. Yeah, I know it sounds cliché but it seems like our lives, region and world are in desperate need of massive doses of it.

I was reminded of that need the day after the presidential election. As chaos ensued on social media from supporters of both sides, Leadership Oakland held our Non-Profit and Human Services Day. While so-called “friends” were hurling harsh judgments against each other, we toured some of the organizations meeting the needs of our community and learned they all could use more help. More kindness.

It got me thinking, how can we as leaders show more kindness personally, professionally and publicly? How can we as individuals lead in a different way against such strong social forces and obstacles? I don’t pretend to have the answers but I do know that I don’t want to fall victim to the fray.

So I’ve decided this holiday season to purposefully seek out ways to give the gift on my list – more kindness – to slow down, put down the phone and engage people more meaningfully. I started this past weekend at a rest stop along the Ohio Turnpike. I noticed the woman cleaning the restroom looked tired and moved slowly. Instead of walking by, lost in my own thoughts, I stopped and thanked her for keeping the restroom so clean. The look on her face was priceless! You can bet in that moment she probably didn’t care if I had voted for a different candidate than she did.

I encourage you to join me in the challenge. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on how we can bring more kindness to our families, friends, community and world.