“Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly, even if they roll a few more upon it.”
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) | German medical missionary
I once was talking with a group of leaders, sharing the importance of those small, daily interpersonal moments we have with others ... those several-times-a-day opportunities we have to better connect with other people.
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At the end of the talk someone said, “This is all great stuff. But when we get back to the office, how do we make sure we actually do it … every day?” It’s a question I give a lot of attention to ... formal attention. It’s the issue of reinforcement … helping something stick and show up as those sustained actions we all want.
Every day, all of us face these interpersonal challenges that get in the way of good work and a more enjoyable day. Don’t we?
We know what to do but we don’t do it consistently enough ... even if we’re in the leadership role. (I write and speak on it and still miss the mark too many times.)
And when the people around us don’t do what they know to do, sometimes we get annoyed and don’t understand it. (I mean how many times do I have to tell him?)
Seems a little unreasonable, doesn’t it? To get annoyed?
If we know what to do and don’t, then why do we get annoyed with others when they know what to do and don’t?
The only logical reason to me is that somehow, somewhere along the way, we elevate ourselves to a point where we feel we’re not as accountable to the small but important interpersonal skills as others should be.
Most of us who’ve been to a few weddings have heard the words that are often shared...
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude or self-serving. It keeps no records of wrongs.”
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? So calming.
We all want this, but I think the challenge for most of us is going first and then sticking with it when others don’t join in.
This is the critical point ... the fragile point. The point of choice.
(Give this a second ... there's a choice.)
What I mean here is that most of us aren’t willing to jump into patience, kindness, and keeping no records of wrongs without the commitment of others doing the same thing, right? Because if we’re the only ones doing it ... it won’t be fair ... and we’ll be taken advantage of. And none of us are up for that. (And why should we be?)
So the cycle continues.
If we really want to be one of those people in the room who makes things better ... helping more people enjoy more of their day ... making good things happen ... enjoying better relationships, more opportunities, and consequently better results ... we need a layer of leaders and managers (and people) who are willing to Cross The Line and commit to subordinating their egos… giving others the break they’d like to be given (giving others the break we'd like to be given). We need a layer of leaders who will do everything they possibly can to model the behaviors they want to see ... no matter what ... calm and responsive rather than unthinking and reactionary.
And we can all be one of those people ... title or not. It's just a choice... practicing that choice.
And because many of us will likely have to wean ourselves from our bad habits of impatience, entitlement, and 'what’s always been' ... we know it’ll be tough at times. We’ll need to continually recommit to the part we play in things ... accepting our personal responsibility for the way things are ... flipping that internal switch and keeping our light on for people around us … even when they themselves aren’t ready to flip that switch.
And there’s the answer, I think...
Be who it is you want everyone else to be.
Do what it is you want everyone else to do.
A more enjoyable day for everyone. That's the goal.
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