August 19, 2017

Pay Attention

I am not good with punctuation and grammar. Goodness my writing software just proved it by correcting “grammer” to “grammar.” I get reminded fairly frequently that I didn’t pay a lot of attention in my youth during English class.

I pay a lot more attention today. I am still working on the grammar and I've come to appreciate the value and power of words through the years.

Grammar can save a life.

A few years back I asked my oldest son to do some proof reading for me. Matthew, now a lawyer, was always good with grammar and language.

After giving him the material, he returned to my office in a matter of minutes. “Questions I asked.” “Dad,” he replied, “Do you know what a comma is for?”

“Sure,” I said, “they slow down really smart people.” I sat there in silence waiting for his reply. I am sure my response caught him completely off-guard. After careful consideration he replied, “Did you ever think commas help smart people truly understand what you are trying to say. In fact, did you know a comma could save a life?”

I learned that “Let’s eat grandma” is very different from “Let’s eat, grandma.”

Putting words into action.

The words we use and how we use them matters. What we say and how we say it have the power to build and destroy. It’s not as simple as choosing our words wisely. It’s getting the commas in the right place.

Compassion is one of four principle reasons people follow a leader yet most leaders confuse it with empathy and altruism.

Empathy is mirroring someone else’s emotion. It is a feeling that feigns interest and concern that poor leaders attempt to turn on and off. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else. It is an action that is certainly noble and honorable but commonly fueled out of self-interest.

Compassion is different.

Compassion is the human quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to alleviate it. We are gripped by true compassion when we recognize a broken heart or broken condition and come to come to their aid with comfort and support.

John Wesley summed it up perfectly when he wrote, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Compassionate leadership.

There are three unique leadership perspectives that drive decision-making and benchmarks for success.

The first two represent perspectives that don’t include a comma. They drip a selfish “grandma eating” attitude.

  • What is yours is mine—I’ll take it.
  • What is mine is mine—I’ll keep it.

Servant leaders lead with compassion. They are not interested in manipulating people. Servant leaders start from the premise that each and every person who crosses their path is rare, unique and valuable.

Compassion rings out in their words and action as they help people discover their unique potential and maximizing their personal and professional impact.

They operate from the perspective that their resources are gifts to be used to raise people up and improve their homes, businesses and communities.

Assumed but not learned.

In 1986, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things. I am not sure when the spelling changed from garden to garden—oh well.

Fulghum describes lessons we all should have learned at a young age. Somewhere along the line this curriculum must have gotten replaced.

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Apply some MAGIC!

I should have paid more attention in English class it would have helped me along the way—words matter and so do commas.

What we say and how we say it are a gateway to the condition of our heart.

We are quick to see what we believe is wrong with everyone else. Great leadership begins with self-leadership and a little MAGIC—make a greater individual commitment.

If every leader (home, business, community) made a greater individual commitment to these simple principles, it could ignite a movement worthy of our time and attention.

It is always a good thing to sit down and listen to the people we love and lead while enjoying a warm cookie and a glass of cold milk. Let’s eat, friends!

[reminder]What do you think? [/reminder]

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