How Leaders Choose Compassion
Taking cuts in line is one of my biggest pet peeves. If it’s in the grocery store, on a freeway onramp or waiting for your turn to speak in a meeting. It feels like someone has wronged you and it pisses you off. Your blood pressure rises to your throat or head and all you want to do is call that mother-forker a jerk. So draining, right? What if you can turn your pet peeve from a place of anger to being a great a leader in less than 30 seconds? All it takes is a small shift in perspective.
One of my colleagues, Jackie told me a story about a time when she was waiting in a long line at Pete’s Coffee one morning. Jackie was running a tad behind schedule for an 8 am meeting. If the line kept moving quickly, she could make it in time. Out of nowhere a man in a nice business suit comes barging in with three disheveled kids between the ages of 4 yrs -11yrs. He goes straight to the front of the line pays the barista and waits on the side as his kids play with the sugars and straws. Her instant internal reaction was, “Son of a bench, that guy just made me late for my meeting.” She considered telling him he was rude but didn’t. She finally ordered her latte and stood by the condiment bar waiting. To make things worse the youngest kid lost his balance near her and accidentally wiped his sugary hands on her nice black slacks. The dad came over and apologized by saying, “Sorry. It’s been a morning. They're much better behaved with mom.” There was a slight pause, he then continued to say, “ She’s been in the hospital and they’re a little out of control.” She responded, “It’s ok. It’ll come out. I’m sorry to hear about your wife. I hope she feels better.” They chatted for a few minutes longer. It turns out his wife, Sheila was the marketing manager at the same company Sheila worked at. She knew Sheila had been on disability for a few weeks battling cancer. Also, he had stood in the same long line as Jackie but forgot his wallet in the car to pay the barista. When Jackie finally understood the full picture, she felt like the mother-forkin’ jerk. From that day forward, whenever someone takes cuts in line her immediate reaction is, “Maybe they have a loved one battling cancer and I wish them well.” That’s it! No anger. No high blood pressure. No negative reaction. Just pure goodness from one person to the other. The lesson here is your perception of a situation can be totally off. Your judgment and reaction to a situation is an expression of your experiences, not theirs. Your reaction is a choice and it can work for you or against you. It can be a reaction of anger or of goodwill. Leaders choose goodwill.
Grab a pen. You’re going to shift from victim to compassionate leader.
Think of your biggest pet peeves. Examples: Cell Phone drivers. Noisy conference caller. When one person hogs the entire meeting. Noisy eaters.
Create a rebuttal statement. A rebuttal statement reminds you there could be more to this picture than meets the eye. Ask yourself what the worst case scenario is that could be driving the other person’s behavior? The next time your pet peeves shows up, silently recite your rebuild statement. Examples: Maybe their loved-one is dying. Maybe they were punished as a child for speaking aloud. Maybe parents pushed them into a profession they absolutely hate.
Choose to be a leader. Silently or out load proclaim, “I choose to be a leader. A leader of compassion.” Notice how good it feels.
xSpearmint for the next week and let me know how it goes. Would love to hear about it.