Listen up, friends, as we have an exceptional conversation with Greg Atkinson, the author of the transformative book, The Secret Power of Kindness. As a father, husband, and seasoned church leader, Greg's unique perspective on the importance of kindness, especially in leadership, is invaluable. We dig deep into the heart of significant leadership and how it intertwines with kindness, forgiveness, and the unlocking of your true potential.
Ever pondered the power of forgiveness? Join us as we discuss its significance, not only towards others but also towards ourselves. Be inspired as Greg shares his personal journey towards self-forgiveness, the obstacles he overcame, and the liberation he experienced in letting go. We also touch on how our pursuit of purpose and meaning creates a path towards fulfillment, leading us to a deeper sense of significance in life.
Moving forward, we take a closer look at the application of kindness in the workplace, as we navigate challenging scenarios. Hear Greg's personal account of choosing not to send an angry email, a decision that had a profound impact on his leadership journey. We delve into the notion of an 'unsend' button for texts and highlight the importance of taking a step back before reacting. Through Greg's powerful narratives and insights, we are all reminded of the extraordinary capacity of kindness and forgiveness, and how these principles can not only transform our lives but also the world around us.
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on social media and tag Ken Joslin.
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of as the Leader Grows. I am your host, ken Jocelyn, and I've got a super special guest with me today. It is my friend, greg Atkison. Both of us have a very, very similar past. Greg and I both spent several years pastoring churches. He's got a new book out called the Secret Power of Kindness and, guys, if there's ever been a now word for the world that we live in, or a book that our world needs more now than ever, it is the Secret Power of Kindness and how we can bridge the gap and reach hurting people, people that you work with people, you love people you know through the Power of Kindness. It's. It's for today, greg. What's up, my friend?Speaker 2:
Hey man, thank you for having me.Speaker 1:
Dude, I'm excited you've been on all my friends podcast and I know we've had to reschedule. You've been with John Lee Dumas. You've been with my guy, dave Meltzer. Dude, take a minute and tell all of you it's a little bit about a little bit more about yourself and what you've got going on right now, greg.Speaker 2:
Yeah, well, I'm a, I'm a husband, a father of three adult kids. I have two in college, one in grad school, and so I'm in the emptiness season. My youngest daughter actually just arrived. It's going to spend the weekend here, but I love when they're home. But now I'm in a new season of life. Like you said, I used to have a background in ministry and pastoring and leadership in church and church staffs, and now I am primarily almost all in the business world. But I do run some conferences two conferences and training opportunities for church leaders and pastors because I still have a heart for them, and then do a little bit of some other stuff, just as you know multiple streams of income and finding ways to be a blessing to others. What I love about what I do as an entrepreneur and as a business owner is it allows me to give generously and to be able to bless more people.Speaker 1:
Yeah, I love it. I love it. And you know, you don't really know the story of the first big stage I ever got off of back in 1999. I'm dating myself now. Right, I was with my good friend, ron Lewis. I was in Michigan, spoke right behind John Maxwell I've done that three times in my life and that's hard because he sucks all the air out of the room. It doesn't matter how big or small the crowd is. I spoke behind John about 9,000 people in the audience that day and my good friend and mentor, jeanie Mayo, pulled me aside. She spoke behind me. We went to lunch the next day and she asked me this question. She said, ken, do you want to be successful or do you want to be significant? Right, and that's when I started to learn what significant leadership was and the difference between the two. And you really have lived and modeled a life of significant leadership. Dude in this book, the secret power of kindness. Talk to me about. So the word that catches me out of the whole title is secret, like it shouldn't be a secret. Talk to me about the title and why this book, for right now.Speaker 2:
Yeah. So I started working on this book four years ago and just was marinating on it, thinking about it. I knew that a lot of what I was seeing in our world, in our country, in our culture, was not kind. There was a lot of toxicity, a lot of fighting and arguing and people that you know are warriors behind a computer screen and talk to people like they would never talk to them in person, and just a lot of junk happening. And I started, just like I said, thinking about it, marinating on it, and then my publisher flew out to my house, met with me at my kitchen table and I had had a proposal of a very similar book with a different title. And he said, greg, this looks like you have really have a heart for kindness, let's go all in on kindness. And so originally we were going to just call it the power of kindness. And then in a brainstorming meeting with the A group in Nashville and Marilio who's done a lot of stuff, you know, with Church of the Highlands and Christoges, but we were brainstorming with Marilio and A group and the publisher and we started talking about how potent kindness is and how powerful it is and how if I'm kind of you, and you're kind of me and we're kind of others. As I say in my book, kindness is contagious and kindness unlocks kindness. So together we could change the world. And so we saw that as a secret power that people don't realize that kindness has the ability to change the world, at least the world that we live in, just based on how we interact with one another.Speaker 1:
So talk to me about some of the things you teach in the book for people. What are some examples? How do you get people to take action on being kind? What are some things that they can do that maybe they just because we live busy lives, right, but what are some things people can do today to affect the way that they're kind to the other people that they interact with on a daily basis?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So there's. There's 10 keys that I have unlocking kindness in your life 10 keys to unlock. And I start right out the gate with a very big, very deep chapter. That takes a lot of people by surprise and they're like, wow, you went deep right from the beginning. But I do a chapter on unlocking forgiveness and I share my personal story and my childhood trauma, abuse and all that I went through. I talk about church hurt, religious trauma, church wounds, and I framed it in such a way that my mentor here in Charlotte, when we first started meeting years ago, he said Greg, every man has a father wound and a church wound. And so I thought I would open the book by sharing my father wound and my church wound, and all in the context of forgiveness and to point out the reality that I'm not angry anymore. I'm not bitter. I don't have this anger underneath the surface, because if I did, I would not be able to be kind to others. I would bite their head off, I'd be short with them, I would be living in this tension constantly. And so, as we unlock all the different keys in the book, I wanted to start with something that is very personal. So when I talk about forgiveness and kindness, and there's a chapter on love. I also point out that you should forgive yourself, that you should be kind to yourself, that you should love yourself so that you can love others. You know, the Bible talks about the great commandment love your neighbor as you love yourself. So we need to love ourselves so that we can love others. We need to be kind to ourselves. So often we have self-hate, self-loathing, self-criticism, and so if we can be kind to ourselves, that will allow us to be and it sounds so weird, but we'll be in better moods where we could treat others more with kindness. And then the chapter on forgiveness. A lot of people just need to forgive themselves for mistakes that they've made in the past. And then we all have had people that have hurt us, that have wronged us, that have treated us unfairly, and we've got to do the hard work and I have spent thousands of hours in therapy and thousands of dollars on therapy. But I talk about the power of therapy in the book and just the process of forgiveness and just releasing these people from the hold they have over us. And so I have been through some terrible stuff and I share a lot of my story in the book that I'm not hurt, angry and bitter anymore and it allows me to have the kind of, I guess you would say, countenance or just persona. When I'm interacting with people. I'm very positive, very upbeat and I try to treat people everybody with kindness. And so what was on?Speaker 1:
me. I see a question, greg. What was the first step in the journey for you when you realized, wow, I've got some unforgiveness in my heart. Walk me through. What was the ah-ha moments you had when you first realized that?Speaker 2:
I think realizing that forgiveness is more for me and it's whether or not they deserve it, whether or not they want it, whether or not they're going to receive it, whether or not it's reciprocated. It's just. This is for me to free them in my mind and to let that hurt and anger and bitterness go and to say I'm going to forgive and move on. Doesn't mean we have to hang out together, doesn't mean we're going to a ballgame or movie together. It's just I've forgiven you, I've released you and I'm going to be free in my heart, in my mind. And they say that unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies, and that's a big part of what I talk about in the book. It's realizing that this is not about the other person and it's not about if they admit they were wrong or not or any of that. It's just me releasing them.Speaker 1:
How much. I was on a TV show in Hawaii this morning. I just finished recording just a little bit of some good friends of mine and we talked about how one of the things we talked about was forgiveness and we talked about how we usually forgive. We tend to forgive other people using the same lens. We forgive ourselves, right. So in this process for you, where you're like this person's hurt me, I don't want to forgive them we, when did it? When did you kind of have that moment of man? This is the same way Greg forgives Greg. So if Greg can't forgive these other people, really Greg probably needs to start looking at being able to forgive Greg. Walk us through that process and why that's. It can be hard for people to forgive themselves.Speaker 2:
Yeah, so you know my, my story and my, my book comes from a background of faith and spirituality, and I talk about how, uh, when I fully realized and grasped that a holy God could forgive me for things I've done against him, then it really puts it in perspective, because I'm not holy, I'm not perfect, I'm not sinless, and so if I was able to be forgiven and have that opportunity given to me, then, um, I could definitely give that same opportunity to others. And but I had to, like you said, start with forgiving myself and, uh, realizing that I have fallen short, I've messed up, I've blown it, uh, but I still, um, I still, you know you mentioned the word significant earlier and I talk about that all the time when I speak, when I do interviews and consulting. You know, one of the biggest best sellers of all time was the search for significance. We all want to have a meaningful life. You know, I I want to make a dent in the universe, like Steve Jobs said. I, I want to know that, when my time has come, uh, that I've left the legacy, that I've made the world a better place, that I have contributed to society and to the greater good and communities, and so part of me living a significant life, meaning that I'm blessing others that I come in contact with. It may not be on a large stage, it may not be, um, face to face with somebody in another country, but right here, where I live in the Charlotte Metro, the people that I interact and that I see on a daily basis. I want to be a force for good in our community and to be a blessing for them, and so, uh, I have found, as you mentioned, a lot of people really resonate with significance and wanting to do something significant with their life. Um, we are here for a reason, and so let's make the world a better place.Speaker 1:
I love that. So when, when, when you hear the word significant or you think about significance, give me a couple words that describe that for you.Speaker 2:
I think, uh, you know, my wife's a nurse and she talks about she wants to do stuff with purpose and meaning. You know she, uh, she was doing a job one time that didn't feel very difficult for a nurse, you know, like, um, she was working at urgent care for a while and people were coming in with colds and sinus infections and she was like this doesn't feel like it has purpose and meaning. So then she got back into hospice and then she's taking care of people in their final moments as they're dying. That had a lot of purpose and meaning for her. So that was a significant role in her life to say I'm going to be with somebody in their final moments, their final months of life. And uh, for her, that had purpose and meaning and significance. And so, whatever you make, you know, in my book I talk about mother Teresa, and I talk about her in a chapter on generosity. Now, mother Teresa was never wealthy, never had finances to give, but she gave her time and presence. And so in the generosity chapter I talk about ways of coming alongside and I know you, like me, are a big fan of servant leadership that we, that we serve those, that that, uh, that we interact with. And so mother Teresa had an example of her presence and her time and her accountants, her attitude, the way she served others, even though she didn't have a lot of money to give financially uh, to bless people. On that way, I think we all would say she lived a pretty significant life that was filled with purpose.Speaker 1:
I love that Talk about fulfillment. When I say fulfillment, what does that mean to you?Speaker 2:
Um, that is a good question. You know, for me, at this season of life, uh, in my late forties, with the empty nest, um, I, I want to be fulfilled in every way you know spiritually, emotionally, physically I, you and I have a lot in common. I was telling you one time via text that I just lost 60 pounds, and I know we're both trying to reclaim our health, get our physical health back, and, uh, I want to be in it for the long haul. I want to see grandkids, so I'm trying to get in better physical shape and, um, to live a fulfilling life. That um makes me, in my book as a whole talks about wholeness, that people would have a whole, healed heart, and that is that is my goal for this book on kindness that that whatever work needs to be done, whatever process of forgiveness and and, uh, the, the deep work that can happen when you read a book like this, that you do meaningful work in your heart, in your life, and heal. And that's my prayer for everybody. That's what I said when this book came out. Uh, people have been saying it's the right message at the right time and I'm glad it's resonating, but my hope for people is that they would experience healing and that would allow them to live a fulfilled life.Speaker 1:
I love that. It's one of my four, one of my. I've got three areas. I write my goals down twice a day, both of my businesses and then personal. One of my personal goals is me healed and whole. I wrote it down every day, twice a day, 365 times, 365 days a year, so 730 times I'm writing that. Go me healed and whole. That's great. Um, when you talk about being healed in whole, take me back because I love it. You said it two or three times already I'm not angry anymore, I don't hold unforgiveness anymore. Take me back to the moment in your journey where you went oh wow, I'm, I'm not, I'm not angry. This doesn't, this doesn't, this doesn't hold or or keep me prisoner or captive anymore. Walk about that, talk us about that moment and walk us through how that felt.Speaker 2:
Great question. I had two significant moments that I talk about in the book. One was related to my dad and that came through a pastor, kind of a spiritual father that spent time with me, mentored me and guided me and through this process of letting go and forgiving that is coupled with therapy and counseling. As far as work, I had a bad situation with a boss who did not treat me fairly at all. It was a really bad situation for him as my supervisor. Months later I was going to work with a non-profit and help people across the nation getting healed and whole and things like that. I knew in my heart I could just clearly sense this thought of you can't help the other people until you let it go yourself. I texted my boss and I said can I take you to lunch? We went to lunch and this is after I'd stopped working there and was moving on to this non-profit. I took him to lunch and I said I just want you to know that I forgive you and I love you. I bought his lunch and we hugged and that was a significant moment in my life to look him in the eyes and say I forgive you for how you treated me, I love you and I don't want there to be any bad blood. But it was also important to me that I couldn't go on and start trying to help others. I do some coaching and things like that, but I can't help others if I'm still holding on to it myself. So it was very like my dad died 26 years ago. I can't look him in the eyes and have that conversation, but this boss I could look at in the eyes, and so we set across from one another at a table or a booth at a Mexican restaurant and I looked him in the eyes and said I forgive you and I love you, and that to me was like a landmark moment in my life.Speaker 1:
Man over salsa and queso and chips. Are you kidding me? I love it. You can't beat that. No, seriously, that's, that's a huge thing. So, so, because here's literally you're, all these things you're talking about. I haven't had conversations on every one of these things with different people. Today, everything you're talking about is crazy. Well, for a lot of people, they're like what does that look like? Like I've got somebody that's hurt me, like, say, a boss, what did that conversation look like? How did you preface that? Because I'm sure if you called him out of the blue and said hey, ken, this is Greg Atkinson. I know we had talked about, dude, I'd love to take you to lunch today. Walk us through how that conversation. How did you get him to lunch? And then you got to lunch, walk us through. Because every single one of us who were sitting here listening to the story were like, oh, I'd love to have been a fly on the wall with that conversation. Walk us through how that conversation went, greg.Speaker 2:
Yeah, and my wife and I had this conversation last night. She's always amazed because I'm super direct, you know, and you know I say a lot. You know my book is on kindness but, as I've told some of my team members, some of my contractors and some friends that I work with, I believe being clear is being kind. So I will be very clear with somebody, very direct, and I think that is as kind as I can be. I don't want them having to read my mind. So when it comes to leadership, when it comes to life, when it comes to work, when it comes to employees, I will be as clear as possible so that they don't have to guess. What is Greg thinking? What does Greg want? What does Greg expect? And so this boss knew that he had blown it, he knew that he had treated me unfairly, and so I'm pretty sure he knew what was coming. Or maybe he thought I was going to lay into him and back that off, but it lasted, but it didn't happen. I just said, hey, we, it is what it is, but I forgive you, I love you and I just want to move on. And now we get along well. You know, he came back to me a year later and said you know everything that you had pointed out we've changed. He said you were right about a lot of stuff. You know, when you come into an organization and you start pushing for innovation and change and structural things, things that were wrong in the organizational structure, that's like people. People could get all riled up when, when somebody starts pointing out things. But then it was very validating a year later when he said you know what? We changed all that around and you were right and so. But we were good relationally because I had looked him in the eyes that I love you.Speaker 1:
Yeah, you know, I had to come back to my first pastor and I built that youth ministry to several hundred kids and it didn't end well and I had moved to Texas. I was with a buddy of mine, we were doing motivational high school summaries around the country, I was doing the stuff with Ron at Teen Mania and the Qualifiers, and I flew home and scheduled a meeting I don't forget I had my palm pilot and a palm five you remember those bad boys back in the day this would have been in 99, 99 or 2000 and flew back and a meeting with and I just said, hey, listen, you know, when I preach, people tell me I look like you or I hold my head like you or I snap I do. There's just so many similarities. I got saved under his ministry at that Southern Baptist Church and just walked through all the things that he had done in my life. I said you know, you're my pastor and I came today because I wanted, when I leave today, I want to slate, to be clean on both sides, and that's what's now. I love you and I forgive you for any and everything that you've done, and I'm going to ask you to forgive me as well, because this is always a two way street and you know, I left that day knowing that and he was my pastor. I mean, that's not, it's not necessarily my responsibility to have that conversation, but I did and and you know who it freed. It freed me Absolutely. It freed me to be able to go. Okay, I want to move forward. Kindness with all the groups. You speak to, the podcast that you're on and you're talking about kindness. What's something somebody can do? Their listeners podcast your own iTunes or your own Spotify, or you're watching the video on YouTube or one of my channels. What's something they can do today to take action on being kind? Greg.Speaker 2:
I think one just own it. Own that you need to go through that process of being kind to yourself, forgiving yourself, loving yourself and then, once you've done that hard work, then you can forgive others, be kind to others, love others. And in the book there's these 10 keys, but a lot of what I do now. And I just had a dinner with two people last night that were interviewing me for like a magazine thing and I told them I said a big part of what I do now is working with organizations on kindness in the workplace, teen culture and the opposite of a toxic culture. I said I have been in some toxic cultures and they started sharing with me toxic cultures that they had came out of and one was in HR. These people I had dinner with last night and I said and I said you know I've seen it with my wife now working at a hospital and how toxic that environment is, where nurses are scared to talk to the doctors because they don't want their head bitten off and nurses are backstabbing behind each other and talking about each other. There's all this stuff going on and I just my head is like I get so many ideas and you know I started this kindness and culture podcast, and I thought it hadn't occurred to me to do an episode on hospitals, but I will now, now that I know what's going on there. But I think, realizing that in any situation you are whether it's employer, employee or somewhere where you're contributing to something larger than you you can't control others, and that's one of the biggest lessons in life and I know you know this, kim we can't control how others act and how others respond and what others speak and say, but we can control how we react and we can control what we say. And so every situation that we go in, whether we are the boss or whether we are the employee, we can choose kindness and we can choose to respond. I remember recently it was about two months ago somebody came at me really hard and said some really harsh things and my response was kindness, to de-escalate the situation, and the person was taken back. They were like, wow, I thought you would come back a lot more angry or upset and I said, no, I'm, you know, like my whole purpose and responding with kindness and there's proverbs about this, you know about the honey and all that but I'm trying to de-escalate the situation and to find, you know, the goal is to find a solution. Let's come to common ground and find something we can agree on.Speaker 1:
So let me ask you a question. Because let me ask you a question because sometimes you don't want to be kind, you want to fire a damn missile. You want to be like oh no, you did not.Speaker 2:
Well, walk me through the inner working. So in my heart when that happens, greg.Speaker 2:
In my first book on leadership, I shared a lesson that I had learned from my boss, my supervisor. I used to fire off some pretty fiery, angry emails. When something you know, I get upset with injustice. And when something's wrong, you know you and I are wired alike. Black and white, right and wrong. I can see when something's wrong, so I would fire off something quickly. And then my boss, who I love to death I think I talked about him in the book, but he was the best supervisor I ever had when I lived in Dallas, texas and he said, greg, he said what I want you to do is type the email going forward, but don't hit send. Put it in a draft folder, show it to me, let me read it and then let's talk about it. And so I had a chapter in my book that said the title of the chapter was don't hit send. And so I have had to learn the discipline of not responding right away. And the tough part, where people really get in a lot of trouble, is it is way quicker and way easier to respond when you get a text, and so we get in trouble a lot of times, relationally and professionally, through texting and sometimes because texts have a 97% open rate. We know they saw it. They know we saw it, and so if we can choose to set our phone down and think I'm not gonna respond right now, I'm angry. I wanna give them a piece of my mind, but I'm gonna just set my phone down and type later and my wife is really good about this. She'll think for a while before she'll respond.Speaker 1:
I am very quick to like I am too, I think. Could you imagine what the app, the boardroom was like? Or the development room and Apple when they went let's create an unsend button on your text messages? So if you send it in the first 10 seconds you can hit unsend and then you get that little warning that they may have already seen it and they may have downloaded on their devices. You're like, oh crap, it's not what I wanted, but anyway, I know I'm kind of picking at it, you know. One of the things too is is waiting until tomorrow. Yeah, wait, sleep on it, man.Speaker 2:
That's one of my chapters in my leadership book. Sleep on it.Speaker 1:
Yep, sleep on it, Just just sleep on it, just process through, because when the emotions are high, intelligence is low. We all, we all know that, greg, give me, give us, give us one thing for the book, for those of us, because we're going to, we're going to share your, your Instagram handle, how to connect with you in just a second, how to get your book. What's one thing that you want the audience to know about? The secret power of kindness.Speaker 2:
Well, you know, one thing that surprises a lot of people because the book is it's written where anybody can read it. It's very down to earth, very practical, story after story after story after story. Bob Goff was my writing coach and he taught me to write it like he wrote Love does, where it's just jam packed full of stories. So it's a very easy read and people enjoy reading it. But there's a lot of things that are spiritual nature, things that I had to work through, like forgiveness, generosity, empathy, patience, love, unity. Those are spiritual nature. Then I put in a very practical chapter that surprises people on rest, unlocking rest and something that I think we don't talk about enough. And I said this when I was on entrepreneurs on fire with John Lee Dumas. He said what's something that you disagree with? That is contrary to what a lot of people believe, and I said I think we need to rest more. I think I wrote years ago a blog called Work Hard, play Hard, and I can work very hard and I can have big seasons where I just go, go, go, go, but then I'm going to take time off and I'm going to rest, and even when it comes to our nightly sleep, in the book I talk about the power of eights, that the average American sleeps eight hours a night, and that's a third of our lives, a third of the life we spend in bed. And so I talk about rest, sleep, sabbath, vacation, sabbatical. I talk about taking time off, because what happens is when a lot of us have a sincere heart that we want to be known for kindness, we want to be kind to people, but if we are shorting our sleep and we are exhausted, we could snap somebody's head off in an instant. And so I always give the example. If you've ever seen a toddler melt down in a store and they're screaming and crying and throwing a fit, you will hear a parent say somebody needs a nap. If we are not well rested, we are not at our best. And so, as much as you want to be known for kindness, if you are cutting it close when it comes to sleep and not getting proper rest, then everybody has a different hour that fits them Some people at six, some at eight, some at 10, whatever works for you. But if you're shorting it, eventually that will catch up with you mentally and emotionally and physically and you will snap it somebody. And somebody will come back to you and say, well, that wasn't very kind and it's not your heart, it's not your character, it's not what you want to be known for. It's that you are flat out exhausted, and so I always encourage people if you get a chance, just read the chapter on rest. I love that.Speaker 1:
You know one of the things that you just mentioned that I've been telling my girls are 27, 24, 20 and 15. And I've been telling them since I was little be quick to repent. Now, when you do something and you make a mistake, just own it. Just own it and move on, and that pretty much can be a lost art in our society as well today. Dude, greg, how can everybody get in touch with you? Where is the best place to find the book? How can people support you and find out more about you? Yeah, I appreciate it.Speaker 2:
I put everything on one central website and it's just my name Greg Atkinsoncom. On there you can find a book, you can find all my socials Facebook, instagram, linkedin, twitter. Everything is at one central website GregAtkinsoncom. I love it.Speaker 1:
You can also hit him up on Instagram at Greg, at Greg Atkinson as well. The books on there guys listen, go grab a copy of the secret power of kindness is what we've been talking about pretty much this entire podcast. It literally is an antidote and a, I guess I would say, a prescription of what our world needs right now is kindness, greg. Thanks for joining us today, my friend.Speaker 2:
Yeah, man, thank you for having me.Speaker 1:
Guys, thank you for joining us on another episode of as the Leader Grows podcast. I am your host, Ken Johnson, and, as always, if this podcast is blessed, you do a couple of things for me. Number one hit that subscribe button, Go over. Leave us a five star review. Take a screenshot If you're listening to this on your iPhone. Screenshot it. Share it over on Instagram, Even if you're on an Android. I'll let you. I'll let it slide. Today it's Friday and it's gorgeous outside. I'll let it slide. Snap a screenshot, share it on Instagram Tag, Greg, and I will share it. Give you a little love with our followers. Until next time, I'll see you on as the Leader Grows. Thanks for joining us, guys.