Dr. Herbert O’Driscoll shares this compelling story about the power of love and vulnerability.
When I was a child, my grandmother died and was buried in the churchyard in Castlecomer, Ireland. The following year I went there on holiday.
One day we drove to visit relatives, I in the back seat with my grandfather. As we pass the graveled driveway leading up to the churchyard, my grandfather, thinking he was unobserved, pressed his face against the window of the car and with a small, hidden motion of his hand, waved.
It was then I came to my first understanding of the majesty and vulnerability of love.
Powerful, isn’t it?
What leapt out at me in O’Driscoll’s story was how the grandfather acted only when he thought no one was looking. I do that. Most people I know do it, too. I think I do it because I don’t want the world to know that I’m a big ole marshmallow inside.
The business world is harsh to those who care. Be the tough guy, was the advice an early male mentor gave me. Never let them see you sweat or think that you care. As the only woman sitting at the negotiating table across from Teamsters and Meat Cutters, that seemed like good advice. Looking back from the perspective of time, I don’t think that it was.
In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding. -Daniel Goleman
Let’s put sex and gender issues aside for now, OK?, and concentrate for now on empathy.
Research tells us (as do our hearts, especially when we have a boss who’s overly detached and makes us feel like the filing cabinet in the corner) that employees want to feel valued. When employees feel valued, they’re more productive.
Productive employees = good news for the employer and the bottom line. It’s a win-win all around.
Letting our employees and colleague know we care isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a neon light of strength.
Only those who are willing to let themselves to vulnerable are destined for greatness..
What about you—who on your team will you be strong enough to let know that you care?
My reaction to the request was immediate, visceral and not pleasant. Why on earth would the workshop facilitator ask the group to split up by gender?
This wasn’t fourth grade phys ed where sex and strength would play a role. My paradigm: leadership knows no gender distinctions, so why was this necessary?
My mind closed. I didn’t hear the first instructions. When everyone stood up and grabbed their chairs, I had no idea what was happening.
I blindly followed the woman next to me across the room and added my chair to the circle of women’s seats, still fuming at the gender division.
There must have been directions to think about something, given the silence and pensive expressions. After several minutes, the facilitator for the women’s group opened the floor for comments.
The deeply insightful and moving comments offered by the first two, then three, then four female participants set me back on my heels. This was meaningful stuff. My pique at the-girls-versus-the-boys separation was petty.
Because one of my personal hot buttons (women’s issues) had been hit, I had rushed to judgment, failing to seek first to understand. Fortunately, I only lost five minutes of what turned out to be an extraordinary two-hour exercise.
My humble pie lessons
1) Be curious. Gather information objectively. Understand what’s being asked and the context in which it’s being asked.
Be curious, not judgmental. ~Walt Whitman
2) Hot button or not, extend the benefit of the doubt. Presume good intentions, not ill.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. ~Marvin J. Ashton
3) Check your personal filters to make certain your own assumptions aren’t blocking the way for all the facts and/or data. I leapt to the top of the ladder of inference in a single bound!
Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ~Don Miguel Ruiz
4) Listen actively and with empathy to what’s being said. Assure that what you are interpreting is really being said. Focus on the speaker, not what’s swirling in your brain.
You can hear without listening, and you can listen and not hear. ~Daniel Barenboim
5) Be humble and look for lessons to be learned!
True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes. ~Edward Frederick Halifax