On Feb. 12, 1966, my brother and sister and I gave this birthday card to our grandmother. Nanny liked it so much she framed it.
I was 10. (Go ahead. Do the math. Yes. I'm that old.) I'll tell you what, when I saw this card, in the frame, with my signature hidden, I was not a happy child.
I was, however, a well-bred child and I respected my elders, especially my grandmother. I didn't say a word.
Happily, I didn't have to. My grandmother was kind. As busy as she always was, she was never too busy to pay attention to those around her and pick up on their feelings. So, when she noticed my dismay, she took action.
She took the card out of the frame and asked me to sign it again. That's my signature, smooshed in-between Eva and Harry.
What does this have to do with creativity? Everything. One of the biggest barriers to creativity is fear. We don't want to look stupid, be laughed at, feel criticized. So we don't share our creative ideas, we wouldn't dream of showing someone our poetry, we diminish ourselves daily. I can't paint. I can't cook. You're so good; I could never do that.
We hide our truest selves. We become invisible.
But there are some people -- like my grandmother -- who are too kind to allow that. They see what others miss. They create environments where we feel safe to share, encouraged to be honest, inspired to do our best. Environments where we know our feelings matter. We matter -- no matter how old we are or what position we hold in a family, a company, a team.
It's easy for me to remember the importance of kindness; the framed card hangs in my office, right next to my desk. Because "Be Kind" is more than a creativity tip for me. It's the essence of who I strive to be.
P.S. Thanks to Leslie for the photos!!