LEADERSHIP 11/26/2014 @ 9:55PM 7,504 views
In honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about what I’m deeply grateful for. I realized that throughout this year, and through all the challenges and hardships I’ve seen people facing these past months, I’ve been struck by something. I’ve been surprised by the things that everyday, ordinary people around me – colleagues, clients, friends, peers, children, and other inspirers – are doing that make the world a better, happier and more peaceful place.
Sure, there is so much around us that brings us down and makes us hang our heads in our hands (just spend the day watching the “news” and your mood will descend from upbeat to depressed in a flash). But I’ve seen a shift of sorts this year – a movement,shall we say – away from pain, suffering and misery towards something more positive, more inspiring. There’s been a keener focus on kindness, happiness, peace and support. And that shift in focus paves the way for a new, more hopeful way of living.
If I were to name the 8 most inspiring things that I see people around me doing around every day, this would have to be my list:
The single most inspiring and transformative act a human being can engage in is forgiveness. I’ve seen therapy and coaching clients completely transform after releasing the pain and suffering they were holding onto because they finally found a way to forgive. To me, forgiveness is looking directly in the face of someone or something that is hurtful, damaging, disturbing or disappointing, and deciding not to harbor hatred or resentment about it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re a wimp and can’t stand up for yourself. It means that you understand that holding onto the pain, anger and resentment hurts you more than it hurts anyone else. It’s the knowledge that hatred and condemnation is not the pathway to recovery or resilience.
Here are some stunning examples of forgiveness, and a beautiful description of howholding on to a longing for revenge won’t give you peace.
Help comes in all sorts of forms – from helping an elderly lady across the street, to supporting a colleague to get a huge project done, to consoling a friend who’s going through a bad break up. Contrary to the idea that people who help in big ways are doormats and will inevitably burn out or get walked on, research now shows that those who are the most successful and impactful in the world are also the biggest, most generous givers. Look around you and you’ll find examples of amazingly generous helpers everywhere.
Carl Rogers, considered one of the fathers of humanist psychology, recognized in his groundbreaking work just how powerful it is to truly listen to a person. He has said that simply listening to his clients was an important way of being helpful. The most effective act of help is where you listen for the feelings and emotions that are behind the words. We see it every day – people who can walk in another’s shoes, and feel deep empathy, are inspiring and in fact, healing to be with. As Rogers has shared, it requires goingbeyond recognizing another’s situation; it’s being able to imagine oneself living it. People who commit themselves to empathizing with others – avoiding the all-too-easy judgments, criticism, and put-downs, but instead listening intently to another and trying to inhabit that person’s version of world – are deeply inspiring role models.
In examining people who are truly inspirational with their knowledge and expertiseversus those who are just plain fakers out for their own gain, it’s clear that people who have something important to say or do can’t help but teach it. They may not be the most polished or experienced at teaching, but those who care about moving the world forward and being of service want to share what they know for the betterment of others and the world. And they’re not worried about what’s in it for them.
“Love” used to be a word and experience reserved for the personal arena – limited to personal situations where people demonstrate love in their families, relationships, friends and to those they care for. But thankfully, people are engaging in love more openly, and love is spreading. We’re seeing that there’s a new focus on leading with love in the business world, and building cultures of compassionate care. I believe that the most inspiring acts of human beings involve some form of love – being fully present and accepting with another, caring deeply, understanding that we’re not really separate from others, and connecting with compassion and non-judgment in your heart to those you’re with. When you see real love at work, especially in the workplace where it used to be so taboo, it’s truly an inspiring thing.