What is the relationship between kindness and success?  Some might suggest that to be successful we must, to some extent anyways, be driven, achievement oriented, perhaps even a little selfish. You know the old adage, “Nice guys finish last.”

I recently stumbled upon some old research that debunks that thinking.

In this study, kindergarten teachers measured their students across a host of “kindness” metrics – such as “shares materials” and “is helpful to others.” Researchers from Penn State and Duke (with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)  followed these students for twenty years and measured certain life outcomes such as education and employment, public assistance, criminal activity, substance abuse, and mental health.

Higher kindness factors in kindergarten were associated with better outcomes across all five factors.

In fact, those “kind” kindergarteners were twice as likely to graduate from college than other students.

We sometimes relegate socio-emotional learning as “soft skills” – somehow less important than learning our ABCs or algebra. This research suggests we may have it backwards.

I was recently honored to participate in an event with Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation and Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. It was in support of their #BeKind21 campaign that asks us all to do one kind thing for 21 consecutive days beginning September 1st. The magic of 21?  It’s how long it traditionally takes to form a habit.

I hope you sign up and take the pledge with you and your family. Who knows it might make this September your most successful month this year. 

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