This is not the first time I’ve published an article, but it is the first post of a series of blogs that I am going to do. Therefore, I think it is a very appropriate to start with something that guided my life, especially my professional life. It was a statement about the “circle of kindness”.
The story started over 20 years ago when I was an engineer supporting production at Rubbermaid in Centerville, IA. Rubbermaid was a fast growing brand at that time; our products filled the whole aisles at Walmart and Home Depot. I was excited, but clueless because it was my first manufacturing job. It was a huge struggle for me using English to make a living, especially talking around the noisy machines with ear plugs.
Jim Senior was the savior for me. He was our accountant and we got to know each other well due the cost saving projects. In addition to helping me calculate the project savings, he spent hours coaching me in writing and talking. He often sat me down and talked with me to improve my pronunciation. Fast forward, I was able to communicate better and be promoted. He deserves a lot of credit for my good career.
Turn the story back to that time. I asked Jim after a tough day when he struggled to “fix” me, “Hey, Jim why do you treat me so well? Why do you help people all the time?”. This is what he said, “Kaiwen, we should always help people when we can. Especially you, because you are the same age as my son; that makes me want to help you even more. I just hope there is someone who would help him as much as I help you.”
This “circle of kindness” thought has stuck with me since. It is true, there is no way for me to protect my family forever, especially my two sons. So, I just hope there are people who would help them as much as I would help others. This guides me through my career, in that I always want to coach others, help others, and volunteer in the community. I want to pass on the kindness and the help I received that I hope others would pass to my sons.
Maybe it is working. In my career, I have always tried to give help to others when I can, and in return, I have received even more help from others. Outside of work, there are days we worry about our sons. I always end up telling my wife that “we can only keep helping people and hope someday people will help them when they need help”. This has kept us going. Now, I am looking for a way to give back what I learned, so I am designing my work to help businesses and professionals.
Jim passed away in 2013. Fate has made an interesting arrangement in that I was transferred back to Iowa during his last days. I was glad to have the chance to hug him one more time in his last week, and wish he knows how much he meant to me.