Cleverness or Kindness???

Posted Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I want to share with you the speech that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, gave to the Princeton graduating class of 2010. It is so awe inspiring.

He shares a life lesson taught to him by his grandfather at the tender age of 10 years old. The story goes.. Every summer Jeff would visit his grandparents on their ranch in Texas. He loved spending time with his grandparents and looked forward to this time. His grandparents belonged to a caravan club; a group of AirStream trailer owners who travelled around the US and Canada and every few summers they would join them. So they hitched up the AirStream to the car and joined a group of 300 others. Jeff loved this time, the only thing he did not love was that his grandmother smoked throughout these trips and he hated the smell of it.

At this age Jeff loved arithmetic and numbers and would find any reason to do math in his head. He just heard a campaign about smoking which said something like, “Every puff of a cigarette takes some number of minutes off your life.” It was something like 2 minutes per puff. Based on this information he was going to figure out for his grandmother how smoking was affecting here. He estimated the number of cigarettes smoked per day, based on a rate of 2 minutes per puff and a couple of other factors and he came up with the facts. Proud of his math calculation he wanted to share this with his grandmother. He leaned into the front seat and declared, “At 2 minutes per puff you’ve taken off 9 years of your life”. He worked hard to figure this out and wanted to be applauded for his cleverness. This is not what happened.

His grandmother burst into tears and his grandfather said nothing. They drove in silence until his grandfather pulled over to the shoulder of the highway and opened the door where Jeff was sitting. Jeff followed him and his grandfather turned to him and said,”Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it is harder to be kind than clever. Cleverness is a gift and kindness is a choice. Kindness can be hard and challenging. In the end we are our choices.”

This lesson never left Jeff and he has carried this throughout his life. In his speech he is passing this wisdom on to the youth who at times act like that 10 year old – spewing off facts without regard who the information may impact.

This lesson is one that we can all learn from. Life is about choices and kindness is one of those choices.

I want you to take time this weekend and think about the information you are sharing. Is this information coming from kindness and love or will it hurt someone? Is there a reason to share this information? Or not? I believe in speaking truth — always from a place of love and heart.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. I cannot believe it is June already!


All my love,


Tags: , , , , , ,


Share Your Thoughts


Leave a Reply