Sometimes the most simple, small acts of goodness can have a positive effect on others says Alan Newton
Intoku is a Japanese word meaning
陰徳: (ethics) Good done in secret, specifically the act of doing good secretly, for its own sake.
Sometimes, the most simple, small acts of goodness can have a positive impact on others; like re-filling and boiling the kettle for your colleagues once you’re finished rather than leaving it empty; or holding the door open for someone. The ‘in secret’ aspect of the definition is not about anonymity per se, but more the act of doing good without the expectation of receiving something in return.
“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make their life beautiful for others” ~ Henry David Thoreau
However, it’s the bigger acts of kindness, taking just a little – but not a lot – more effort that can have a significant impact on others. When you free yourself from the expectation and desire for praise, it can prove to be liberating. Let’s just pause for a moment and think…. How often do you get upset or agitated when someone doesn’t thank you or give validation for something you’ve done, no matter how small or large? I’m guessing it’s at least a couple of times a week, right? If you stop looking for that validation, then the act itself becomes its own reward. That doesn’t mean your boss and/or colleagues should be lacking appreciation for you, but it can help when such appreciation is absent.
Intoku firstly requires a willingness to actively and consciously do good in the knowledge and acceptance of not receiving gratitude.
In ‘The Power of Meaning’, Emily Esfahani Smith writes “Anyone, in any position can change how they feel and how their co-workers feel, simply by fostering small moments of connection.” Intoku can support this outward looking notion of fostering connections because it encourages humble acts of kindness towards others.
Two of the simplest methods of practising intoku in our daily business lives include:
Heartfelt personal messages of gratitude have a big impact on others. Whilst this act demands nothing in return, expressing heartfelt gratitude, according to Psychology Professor Robert A. Emmons, can help you experience higher levels of happiness, joy, health and wellbeing. Today, we have the tools at our disposal to express gratitude in different ways; via an email to someone’s boss expressing appreciation, a recommendation on LinkedIn, giving social credit and helping to establish trust with new contacts, or, a website peer review for an individual or a business. Reviews are a quick and easy method to provide validation of a service provided, which – in turn – helps countless others with their own decision-making.
Facilitating introductions without the expectation of any benefit. I had a conversation with an ex-England sportsman turned businessman a few years ago. We were chatting about his business when I paused, and we had a simple exchange…
“There’s someone I need to introduce you to whom I think you will find very beneficial for you”.
“What can I do for you?”, he asked.
“Nothing, thanks”, I replied.
Furrowing his brow in surprise, he explained how he had spent a life-time facilitating introductions to other people, with no expectation of benefit, yet it was nice for someone to finally return the favour.
“Well, it’s no skin off my nose to connect two people in my network who I know can do good work together. What’s stopping me?”, I replied.
“What’s stopping everyone else then?” he asked.
It was a good question and maybe the answer is that enough people aren’t practising Intoku.
Give it a try and see how the world you experience changes.