It’s Better to Be Kind Than Clever

Alex Pollock
March 27, 2019
Better to Be Kind Than Clever
I continue to be amazed at the dramatic ways that technology is reshaping our world today. Hardly a week goes by that we don't receive notice that some system we use at work or at home is being updated. Unfortunately, I think we often equate the latest gadgets with "improvement." While we can all benefit from these amazing new tools at our disposal, I believe that great advances in creativity and productivity should never come at the expense of empathy and generosity.

When I think back on my 30-year plus industrial hygiene career, I am struck by how powerful my memories are of the interactions I had with people, versus the tools I worked with as I plied my trade on the factory floor. Dealing with the vagaries of mere mortals can run the gambit from inspiring, to sobering, to frustrating — but it is never dull. And there is no technological replacement for the truth that "people don't care what you know until they know you care." Maybe what separates exceptional EHS practitioners from "average" ones is that they care more.

As William C. Taylor reminds us in his book "Simply Brilliant" (2016) we all "crave small gestures of kindness that remind us what is means to be human." Taylor tells of the touching conversation between a young Jeff Bezos and his grandfather resulting in Jeff being gently yet firmly told: "One day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever."

As we continue to advance along with the latest clever tools at our disposal, may we also continue to evolve toward kindness. For it is those simple acts of compassion that not only make us better people, but better industrial hygienists and better EHS practitioners, too.


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About the Author

Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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