A story was once told of an employer who hired people on a daily basis for a day’s labour on his farm. Men would line the street each morning waiting for the truck to arrive and select the needed number of people for the days work. As the men were selected the payment for the labour was agreed. Throughout the day however, the need for more workers increased and so the farmer would return for more men. Nearing the end of a particular day he came back one last time with just one hour remaining. These men were grateful to get any work and so they readily agreed to work but with little thought of what payment they would receive. In this town, if you didn’t work – you didn’t eat, so they were grateful for anything they could get.
At the end of the day the workers lined up for their payment and to the great astonishment of the last called labourers they received a full days wage when they had only worked just one hour. The generousity of the employer and his compassion upon their circumstances was greatly received. What an act of kindness he displayed. However, envy set in the hearts of some of those first picked even though he had abided by their agreement. He had picked them first and they enjoyed a full day of work with the peace of mind that they would be able to afford to buy food to eat at the close of their day, but when they compared their payment with those later workers they were discouraged and upset. One or two of them even threw their payment back in disgust and walked away empty handed, choosing to feed on their envy that evening instead of a home cooked meal.
Some people view the farmers decision as unfair. People were not treated equally and others worked harder and longer for the same reward. However, the message of the story is about the importance of being kind and generous to others and of our personal need to avoid the minefield of envy.
In Nikken, as in other businesses, we are faced regularly with opportunities to show kindness and to be generous. Whilst rules are always honoured and kept, from time to time a personal circumstance requires a different perspective to a given situation and an chance to be kind arises. I have seen throughout my career an added difficulty in choosing to be kind when other people become envious as a result. Some try to make the act of kindness a required display of generousity to all in order to be fair and to consider the hurt feelings of others who may learn of it. The challenge with that is – that when you are equal to all and make life consistently fair and even you remove the opportunity to ever show kindness to anyone at all.
It is true that the world is not fair – but that is a good thing. How else then could we show consideration to others, be generous with our time or possessions and be kind to others? It is the very existance of unfairness that allows us to reach out to others and show acts of kindness, to build relationships, to give of ourselves. But as soon as you make that a rule – you destroy its very exisitance. Kindness cannot be a rule – it is above it. Generousity can not be prescribed – it is the very unprescribed nature of it that makes it what it is.
Nikken will always strive to be kind and generous. We will always seek out what is best versus simply what is good. A small few may get envious of this approach if they see someone else become a recipient of a kind act, but their small mindedness will not impede our commitment to move forward and pursue greatness. Envy can be the death of kindness to some – but for Nikken – kindness will be the death of envy to those we serve.